U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, Richard Norland, said on December 20 that the embassy was following closely situation involving recent arrests of several former officials, including of Nika Gvaramia, who is now the head of Rustavi 2 TV.
“We are following the situation closely,” Ambassador Norland told journalists after he was asked to comment the recent arrests, specifically on the one of Nika Gvaramia, a former government member, who is now a director general of Rustavi 2 TV station.
“Obviously whenever the head of a TV station is arrested one asks whether the issue is freedom of the press – the principle, which the United States stands for; at the same time there is information circulating in the media that this arrest had to do with some other issue entirely, having to do with financial transactions in the private sector,” the U.S. ambassador said and added, that “our focus will be on ensuring that due process and rule of law are observed.”
According to the Georgian prosecutor’s office ongoing investigation into, what it says is, “the case of elite corruption” in which Gvaramia was arrested had nothing to do with the latter’s activities with the Rustavi 2 television station.
Davit Mchedlishvili, deputy chief prosecutor said on Thursday, that investigation was launched on November 8, 2012, six days before Gvaramia was appointed as general director of the Rustavi 2 TV.
Former energy and finance minister Alexander Khetaguri, as well as Gvaramia, who was government member till late 2009, Kakha Damenia, now a partner at a business consultancy firm GDC Solutions and a former deputy economy minister, another partner at the same firm Bela Gutidze and chief executive officer of Telasi, an electricity distributor company in Tbilisi, Devi Kandelaki, and a sixth person were arrested on December 19.