Giga Bokeria, secretary of Georgia’s National Security Council, has dismissed allegations that the arrest of photojournalists might be a campaign against free media as “conspiracy theory” and “groundless.”
“Those conspiracy theories as if this [arrest of photographers] is a campaign against free media or a restriction of free media are absolutely incomprehensible for me,” he said while speaking in Georgian Public Broadcaster’s talk show Dialogue with David Paichadze late on July 12.
“One should not simply throw words when there is no ground whatsoever for such [allegations]. It would be better if those people, who are sincerely concerned over this case… take more responsible approach while ringing this kind of alarm bells,” Bokeria said.
He also said an allegation that photographers were arrested because they had taken and distributed photos of break up of the May 26 protest rally was “a deep conspiracy theory”.
Bokeria said that high public interest towards the case was “understandable” for him.
“Although it does not automatically mean that there is a guaranteed right that the court proceedings will be fully open on cases like this… It is not up to me to decide, it’s up to the investigation and up to the court to decide [whether to declassify or not the case],” Bokeria said.
A group of media activists and journalists has been campaigning actively, including through protest rallies and meetings with Tbilisi-based Western diplomats, lobbying for lifting the veil of secrecy drawn over the case of arrested photojournalists, which has been classified as “secret”.
It emerged on Tuesday, that Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili will meet with a group of journalists and media activists on July 13 – along with demanding to declassify the case, meeting with Merabishvili was another demand by the media watchdog group.
Secretary of the National Security Council, Giga Bokeria, also said on July 12, that the case of photographers was about “very serious criminal charges”, not about their journalistic activities.