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Court Explains Reasons Behind Suspending Imedi TV’s License
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 15 Nov.'07 / 19:43

Imedi TV was used as “a major tool” for organizing the demonstrations, which eventually got out of control, creating “an obvious and real threat of a forceful overthrow of the government,” Tbilisi City Court said in a statement on November 15.

The statement was issued in an attempt to clarify its ruling on the suspension of Imedi TV’s broadcast license and the freezing of its assets.

It said it had acted upon the request of the General Prosecutor’s Office, which ordered that Imedi's “owner be prevented from using and managing” the station's broadcast license.

“[The General Prosecutor’s Office] cited massive unrest in the capital, Tbilisi… and investigators suggested that a real threat existed that events could have spiraled out of control, leading to even graver and more uncontrollable crime – the overthrow of the government through rebellion,” Tbilisi City Court said.

“At the same time, there was enough information and a justified supposition that these assets [Imedi TV and its broadcast license] could have been used to achieve this goal [the overthrow of the government through rebellion],” it said. “The supposition was backed by the fact that Imedi TV was used as a major tool for organizing the demonstrations, which then become uncontrollable… Arkadi [Badri] Patarkatsishvili [co-owner of Imedi], as a co-conspirator, made a statement on November 7 through Imedi TV, which is actually controlled by him.”

On November 7 Imedi TV read out a written statement by Patarkatsishvili, in which he said he would spare no resources to liberate Georgia from, what he called, the Saakashvili regime.

“[Reading out this statement] created an immediate and real threat of a further escalation in tensions and the overthrow of the government and was an incitement to mass unrest,” Tbilisi City Court said.

It also said that the court had ruled positively on the request of the General Prosecutor’s Office and had instructed prosecutors to enforce the ruling. “A copy of the relevant order was submitted to the General Prosecutor’s Office investigative unit at 8:05 pm [local time on November 7],” Tbilisi City Court said.

Imedi TV went off air at about 9 pm on November 7 after a police raid on the station's studios. The court ruling was given to Imedi TV management only six days later, on November 13.

Martin Pompadur, the executive vice-president of News Corp. (the company which co-owns Imedi TV) and the chairman of the company’s European arm, said on November 14 that the allegations against Imedi were “ ridiculous.”

“Given that News Corp. has been a partner in Imedi for over a year, a News Corp executive Lewis Robertson has been CEO of Imedi since last year and News Corp accepted total management control of the station on 31 October 2007, to accuse Imedi is to accuse News Corp,” Pompadur was quoted by Agence France-Presse (AFP). “To allege that News Corp. is involved in a Russian-backed coup in Georgia is beyond ludicrous.”

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