Radio Free Europe

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

https://www.rferl.org/

Dozens Of European Politicians Call For Jailed Georgian Ex-President Saakashvili To Be Freed.

TBILISI -- Dozens of European lawmakers and other current and former politicians -- including former presidents of Latvia and Ukraine -- have called for the release of jailed Georgian ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili , whose detention earlier this month deepened a protracted political crisis in the South Caucasus country.

“Saakashvili’s imprisonment should be suspended until he faces trial, in fair judicial proceedings” in order to “ensure the recovery of Georgia’s democracy from the current political crisis,” according to a joint open letter dated October 18 and addressed to the presidents of the European Council, European Commission, and European Parliament.

Citing “no public trust in the justice system in Georgia,” the letter calls for an end to “the era of politically motivated justice” in the country.

The signatories include Latvia’s former president, Valdis Zatlers, and Viktor Yushchenko, ex-president of Ukraine, as well as more than 70 current and former politicians, including two dozen members of the European Parliament.

The joint call comes on the 18th day of hunger-strike that Saakashvili declared following his arrest on October 1, which occurred hours after he announced he had returned to Georgia following an eight-year absence and triggered a protest by thousands of his supporters in Tbilisi last week.

The 53-year-old Saakashvili was convicted in absentia in 2018 and had lived in Ukraine in recent years.

Last month, he announced plans to fly home for the October 2 nationwide local elections despite facing prison, claiming he wanted to help "save the country" amid political turmoil triggered last year after opposition parties said elections won by the ruling Georgian Dream were rigged.

In this month's vote, Georgia's main opposition force -- the United National Movement (ENM) that Saakashvili founded -- was outpolled decisively by Georgian Dream. However, runoffs are scheduled for October 30 in Tbilisi and other key cities.

Saakashvili says he will continue his hunger strike until runoff elections are held, while his doctor calls for a medical commission to urgently evaluate his deteriorating health.

In their letter, the European politicians said the charges against Saakashvili “were known to be part of an established pattern of political persecution” that has targeted “dozens of former officials tried and convicted by their successors.”

They said the arrest of the former president “serves only to deepen the political crisis” that Georgia is facing following “years of extreme polarization that have resulted from attempts to control the free press; to intimidate and surveil journalists, opposition politicians, activists, and even foreign diplomats; and to limit the space and resources for political opposition to the government.”

Georgia's president from 2004 to 2013, Saakashvili was sentenced in 2018 to a total of nine years in prison in absentia after being convicted of abuse of power in two separate cases. The ex-president has rejected all charges as politically motivated.

Related news
Lithuanian Lawmakers Extend State Of Emergency At Belarusian Border.

Lithuanian Lawmakers Extend State Of Emergency At Belarusian Border.

Lithuanian lawmakers have extended the state of emergency at the Baltic nation's border with Belarus and at camps hosting migrants who arrived from there as it tries to stem the flow of people into the European Union through the bloc's eastern flank.

Radio Free Europe

This is the most despicable tactic of the left: Steve Hilton.

This is the most despicable tactic of the left: Steve Hilton.

'The Next Revolution' host slammed the left for weaponizing racism, and also called out Rep. Lauren Boebert's remarks against Rep. Ilhan Omar #FoxNews #TheNextRevolution Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live...

County Lines: PM launches 10-year plan to tackle drug crime.

County Lines: PM launches 10-year plan to tackle drug crime.

Boris Johnson has launched a 10-year plan for tackling drug crime in England and Wales and taking on the 'kingpins' behind supplies, warning criminals they will have 'nowhere to hide'. The PM has promised £300m investment to close down drugs gangs...

COVID-19: Boris Johnson on Christmas: 'Wait to see how dangerous Omicron is.

COVID-19: Boris Johnson on Christmas: 'Wait to see how dangerous Omicron is.

Coronavirus latest: PRIME Minister Boris Johnson today urged the public to remain 'calm' and face a waiting game to see how much of a threat is posed by the Omicron variant, before a decision on Christmas restrictions is made. The PM said: 'Nothin...

Germany mulls vaccine mandate as 4th COVID wave rages - DW News.

Germany mulls vaccine mandate as 4th COVID wave rages - DW News.

With Germany struggling to contain a massive surge in COVID-19 infections, talk of a vaccine mandate is heating up. In the coming weeks, the new parliament will vote on whether to require all residents to get the jab. In the meantime, Germany's fe...

Aung San Suu Kyi receives four-year jail sentence

Aung San Suu Kyi receives four-year jail sentence

Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi has received a four-year jail sentence, as a court delivered the first verdicts in a number of cases which could see her imprisoned for decades. The 76-year-old has been in detention since February 1st whe...

Minister says 'lifestyle drug users' could be targeted.

Minister says 'lifestyle drug users' could be targeted.

The government has unveiled a £300 million plan to crack down on drug crime in the UK, at the same time that the Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle calls on the Met Police to investigate drug use within Parliament. Policing minister Kit Malthouse h...