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.”
For Russian version of this report - see Gay Caucasus.
It's not the first time that the journalists of this Batumi-based publication face intimidation.
31 July 2008 - Civil.ge - Public Defender Sozar Subari has requested the prosecutor’s office in Batumi to probe into the alleged “intimidation” of journalists at the local weekly newspaper Batumelebi.
The newspaper, published in Batumi, Adjaran Autonomous Republic, said in a statement last week that it had received an e-mail, which said: “you will find him [one of the newspaper’s journalists] dead with the newspaper stuck in his mouth.”
Prior to the anonymous e-mail, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Eter Turadze, and another journalist were, they say, followed by unknown people. They say the surveillance was deliberately noticable, presumably so as to intimidate them.
The Public Defender’s Office said in a statement on July 31 that the incidents should be investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office as it believed they constituted intimidation.