The Batumi-based weekly newspaper, Batumelebi, said law enforcement officers attempted to “blackmail” and “intimidate” its journalist, including through use of “stigma persisting in Georgia” towards homosexuality.
It said in a statement on Thursday, that on November 25 head of the newspaper’s journalistic investigations unit, Tedo Jorbenadze, was summoned by Interior Ministry’s Special Operations Department’s (SOD) local division in Adjara Autonomous Republic to talk about “some personal matters” and “about his sexual partner.”
Before going to the SOD’s Adjara headquarters in Batumi, Jorbenadze informed about the summoning newspaper’s director and editor-in-chief, Mzia Amaglobeli and Eter Turadze, respectively, who decided to accompany colleague at a meeting with the law enforcement officers. However, according to the statement, the editor and director were not allowed to attend a conversation between Jorbenadze and the officers.
The Batumelebi said that during the meeting Tedo Jorbenadze was shown what seemed to be cropped black-and-white photos of near-naked men also featuring the journalist himself.
“Tedo Japaridze was told [by law enforcement officers] that there was an interest towards the Batumelebi newspaper by special services of foreign countries, in particular Turkey and Russia and they needed his assistance and cooperation,” the Batumelebi said. “After receiving a refusal [from the journalist], Jorbenadze was warned that these photos would have been sent to his ailing father, as well as to his colleagues and disseminated through internet. But Jorbenadze told [the law enforcement officers] that they would not intimidate him with cropped photos and left.”
The newspaper said it intended to request the prosecutor’s office to open investigation into the case, which it described as “Soviet KGB-style method of recruitment.”