New York, June 22, 2023—The Committee to Protect Journalists on Thursday welcomed news that journalist Nika Gvaramia was pardoned by Georgia’s President Salome Zurabishvili.
Gvaramia, founder and director of independent broadcaster Mtavari Arkhi, had been serving a 3.5-year prison sentence since May 2022 for alleged abuse of office during his previous role as director of another broadcaster. As a presenter for Mtavari Arkhi, Gvaramia was known for his trenchant criticism of Georgia’s ruling party, and his jailing has been widely denounced by local and international rights groups as politically motivated.
Earlier this month, CPJ visited Georgia and pressed authorities to release Gvaramia. The visit included a meeting with Gvaramia’s wife Sofia Liluashvili outside the prison where Gvaramia was being held. Liluashvili told CPJ on Thursday that she was on her way to the prison after hearing about the pardon in the news.
“We are thrilled that Nika Gvaramia has been pardoned. He should never have been jailed, and his continued imprisonment stood at odds with the country’s purported commitment to press freedom,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ Program Coordinator for Europe and Central Asia.
OC Media reported that Zurabishvili said she made the decision after the Supreme Court rejected Gvaramia’s appeal of his conviction on June 19, saying, “I am not going to give any explanation for this decision, because it is my discretionary right that I use today.”
In April, CPJ and 10 other major rights organizations wrote to Zurabishvili, calling on her to release Gvaramia.