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Reporter accuses Georgian authorities of trying to poison him during NATO meetings in Brussels

(CJES/IFEX) - Giorgy Popkhadze, a reporter with Radio France Internationale (RFI), has accused the Georgian authorities of trying to poison him at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on 22 June 2010, according to a 22 June report.

The defence ministers of the NATO countries met in Brussels on 10 and 11 June to discuss cooperation with non-NATO countries, including Georgia. Popkhadze said he bought a Coke and put it on his table after a meeting between Georgian Defence Minister Bacho Akhalaya and NATO officials. He was then approached by an official from the Georgian Defence Ministry press center, who asked for a USB cable in order to put photographs onto a computer. The journalist gave the official the cable and went with him, leaving the Coke on the table. When the journalist returned, he took a sip from the glass, but did not drink the rest of it because he did not like the bitter taste of the drink. A short while later, he felt poorly. When he got home, he lost consciousness. The journalist was found by a friend, who called for an ambulance.

The journalist was diagnosed with having overdosed on a tranquilizer. However, Popkhadze says he has never taken tranquilizers. The doctors then assumed he could have been poisoned. Popkhadze came to the conclusion that the people who tried to poison him hoped for him to fall asleep while driving and could have acted on the orders of the Georgian authorities, who he believes consider him dangerous because he could pass compromising information about them directly to high-ranking EU and NATO officials.

The journalist also says that Georgian journalists and human rights activists had recently visited Brussels at his invitation and brought materials on repression and killings in Georgia, including documentaries, copies of which were given to EU officials.

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