The European Fact-Checking Standards Network (EFCSN), an association representing over 40 independent fact-checking organizations in 27 countries, condemns the direct attacks Georgian fact-checkers are receiving from their own government. Independent fact-checking is a public service and our Georgian members have a duty to fact-check government statements and inform the public when they contain falsehoods. No government should try to intimidate fact-checkers into not doing their job.

Contrary to those recent attacks on Georgian fact-checking organizations, the EFCSN rejects any suggestion that its accreditation process is affected by “lobbying” or any other form of undue influence. That is categorically false and an attempt to slander those organizations and the EFCSN itself.

Moreover, the insinuations by the government and ruling party of Georgia that fact-checkers providing citizens with information is “censorship” are misguided and an attempt to thwart the legitimate role of a free press in providing accountability to power. Online fact-checking initiatives such as Meta’s Third-Party Fact-Checking Program are active in almost every country of the EU and the scientific evidence points to their effectiveness against disinformation. Furthermore, collaboration with EFCSN members is recognized by EU institutions as a useful way to mitigate it during elections.

It seems deliberate that this harassment campaign is occurring as the government reintroduces a Foreign Agent Law that would “restrict freedom of expression and association” (Amnesty International) and “whose real aim is to obstruct the work of independent media and NGOs” (RSF). Against this background, particularly concerning is that the Government of Georgia is unjustly portraying its actions as reflective and in line with European Union standards.

The European community of fact-checkers calls on the Georgian government to stop harassing the fact-checkers at FactCheck Georgia and Myth Detector, and reminds it that EFCSN verified members already comply with one of the most stringent requirements that exist in the global media sector in transparency, ethics, and investigative methodology – whose compliance is carefully reviewed by independent auditors on a regular basis.

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