(Civil.Ge) — Channel 9, TV station owned by Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili’s wife, said on July 27 it would appeal to the chief prosecutor’s office to request an immediate investigation of an attempted blackmail against its journalist.
Channel 9’s journalist, Nodar Chachua, said that an unknown man approached him in downtown Tbilisi few days ago and asked to follow him in his car, where two other unknown men were waiting; in a conversation, according to Chachua, the men, who were in civilian clothing and armed, introduced themselves as employees of an unspecified “agency, which solves problems for people, but which can also create problems” and offered him to provide them information about daily developments in the Channel 9, as well as information of private nature about other employees of the TV station in exchange for money. Chachua also claimed that the three men also told him to have a sex with one of his male colleagues from Channel 9 and to try to record it secretly on video camera. The journalist said that the three men were initially threatening him, including telling him that they would force him to take narcotic drugs.Chachua said that he met the three men again on July 26 after they contacted him via mobile phone.
The journalist said that he was able to identify one of these three man in file footage of the Interior Ministry, where this man is seen in a capacity of a law enforcement officer, accompanying an arrested suspect. Chachua has also reported number plate of a car in which the conversation took place during a second meeting, as well as a mobile phone number from which he had been contacted to arrange the second meeting.
Channel 9 denounced blackmail attempt on its journalist as “launch of struggle against” the TV station “with dirty methods.”
Tbilisi-based legal advocacy and human rights group, Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, said that the case reported by the Channel 9 journalist contained signs of criminal offense and called on the law enforcement agencies to immediately investigate the alleged blackmail.
Also on July 27 a small group of journalists held a protest rally outside the chief prosecutor’s office and demanded an immediate investigation of the case. Journalists at the rally were holding banners reading: “Don’t fight against us with Soviet methods”; “Blackmailing is crime”.
In November, 2009 an investigative journalist from the Batumi-based newspaper, Batumelebi, said he became a victim of a blackmail from the law enforcement officers; investigation was launched, but no progress has been reported. Two years later, the Batumelebi newspaper, reported that its own investigation led to identifying the suspected blackmailer as an employee of the Interior Ministry’s counter-intelligence service; the case still remains unresolved.