Civil.Ge — A group of Georgian journalists has requested the Swiss authorities “to provide all possible assistance” to an investigative reporter, Vakhtang Komakhidze, who last week asked for asylum in Switzerland, citing threats against him and his family.
An appeal drafted with an initiative of Journalists for Freedom of Speech, a rights group established less than two years ago, was circulated at a rally held outside the Swiss embassy in Tbilisi by dozens of journalist, human rights activists and some opposition politicians on February 13.
“Vakhtang Komakhidze a well-known Georgian investigative journalist, an author of several important and scandalous investigative reports,” the appeal reads. “We are aware that Komakhidze faced problems previously about his investigative reports, but has never resorted to such a radical measure [requesting for asylum abroad].”
“We express solidarity to our colleague and taking into consideration Vakhtang Komakhidze’s reputation and being aware of possible danger, please provide appropriate assistance to our colleague.”
Komakhidze who has been placed in a camp for asylum seekers in Switzerland, claims threats coming from the authorities, in particular the law enforcement agencies, intensified following his visit to Tskhinvali in December to gather information about his next documentary on the August war.
“It was a very difficult decision, but the situation itself was very difficult,” Komakhidze said in a telephone interview with RFE/RL Georgian service on February 14.
“Knowing that the authorities were capable of implementing their threats – that’s what made me take this decision,” he said.
Komakhidze did not speak about the details of his case. “I will have to prove my claims here and all the details will be analyzed… My appeal requesting asylum is now under consideration and it will take some time, it’s not a short-term process,” he said.