Janet C. Phelan
When Edward Snowden met with Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald to turn over documents revealing the extent of the NSA spying program, he did more than provide an education to the entire world concerning the reach of the American Empire. He also very likely protected himself from far flung and highly illegal machinations to silence him. Safely ensconced in Russia, Snowden is now reportedly working for a Russian website. His revelations continue to impact the public persona of the US, worldwide.
Other whistleblowers and journalists have not been so fortunate.
Enter Jeffrey Silverman…
Silverman, who was born in Washington DC and served in the US Army prior to receiving an MS in Agricultural Development/International Development, had been living in the Republic of Georgia since 1991. He has done in-depth investigative reporting on chemical and biological weapons, the alleged murder of the former Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania and on black torture sites in the former Soviet Union.
Silverman, who also writes under the name Joni Simonishvili, had been working on articles concerning covert US support for the Chechen rebels when he made a trip back to the US in 2004 to visit family. To his amazement, he was charged with failure to pay child support in Kentucky. Silverman states that he had been paying support for years without a court order. After a Kentucky judge ordered his passport seized and turned over to authorities due to the alleged non-payment of support, a Virginia judge subsequently reversed the order and gave Silverman back his travel documents.
Silverman had flown back to Georgia and was on a working trip to Azerbaijan to submit an article in Baku when he was picked up on orders of the US Embassy, beaten badly and his passport again seized. The US Embassy then issued a document to Silverman stating that he is an alien. He was offered a trip back to the US under alien status but instead of accepting a tainted offer, Silverman jumped the border from Azerbaijan into Georgia.
There are strict laws governing the revocation of an individual’s citizenship. A US native born citizen cannot have his citizenship revoked unless he commits an expatriating act, such as serving in an army at war against the US. No such terms, however, apply to Jeffrey Silverman.
The FBI subsequently paid a visit to Silverman’s son’s mother, Donna Evans. She wrote:
I had two FBI agents visit me at my job in Kentucky. One was Detective Greg Wolf and the other was Mr. Steve Auvenshine. They came to my work site and told me they were investigating you but wouldn’t tell me why. They asked numerous questions about you and what you did for a living. “They showed me a picture of you and asked if it was you. They asked me questions about how we met, where you have lived, where you were born, who your parents were and what did they do for a living, whether they were still alive or not, what countries you had visited, what languages you spoke, how long you had visited each country, what religion you practiced and if you had ever been in the military. I asked them why they were asking so many questions about you but they would not say. I think they already knew all the answers to all the questions they asked me; I think they just wanted to see if I would verify what they knew. They also wanted me to send all the e-mails that you had sent me to them. Bourbon County [the local authority] said that they were already sending all the e-mails they receive from you to the US State Department.
The State Department declined to comment on Silverman’s citizenship, as did DHS and the DOJ.
Following the beating in 2004, Silverman was again detained in 2005. According to Silverman, “The police kidnapped me off the street in the middle of the day and took me to the Georgian Office of Counterintelligence and beat me….Embassy staff were waiting in the other room and when done, they came and asked if I needed any help in returning to the US. It so happens that the agent involved, Bryan Paarmann, is the same agent involved in the alleged murder cover up of the Georgian PM, Zurab Zhvania.
Someone else who was impacted by the mounting concerns about the nature of Jeffrey Silverman’s journalism was Silverman’s friend, Vahktang Maisaia, who served as counselor at the Georgian mission in NATO in 2004-2008. Maisaia writes of events that took place in May of 2009:
I was tortured and subjected to mock execution at the building two days later. I was accused in having relations initially with NATO special services, Slovak Republic military intelligence service and later on they extended the link with “Russian Federation Intelligence Service” (I quoted word-by-word the name of the Russian service – why because the service with such name does not exist at all even in accordance to the Russian Federation laws). It is long too history how well my case has been rigged but regarding Jeffrey I had to confess that in one of the night illegal interrogation session usually started at 6.00 PM till 6.00 AM by the Counter-Intelligence Department two teams almost every days since May 8th till June 23 of 2009 at Gldany prison #8), Otar Ordzhonikidze and his staff-member Data Datashvili and Valerian Zumbadze personally interested in Jeffrey Silverman’s personality and background, they tortured me in order to gain his contact points and whereabouts at that time in order to seize him in abduction manner, like “death squadron” way and execute him in somewhere unknown place because of his foreign citizenship and his popularity abroad (how they claim to me).
Another assault on Jeffrey Silverman in 2011 made the evening news in Tbilisi. Silverman has plates in his head from one of his beatings.
Jeffrey Silverman is now essentially a stateless person. Silverman states he has sought assistance from Reporters without Borders as well as the Committee to Protect Journalists. CPJ did not respond to inquiries from this reporter as to that organization’s refusal to address Silverman’s plight. It is known in journalistic circles that the agencies pledged to protect press rights generally turn a blind eye to assaults on US journalists doing adversarial reporting.
Silverman is currently the Georgia Bureau Chief for Veterans Today and teaches in Tbilisi.
Janet Phelan is an investigative journalist whose articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The San Bernardino County Sentinel, The Santa Monica Daily Press, The Long Beach Press Telegram, Oui Magazine and other regional and national publications. Janet specializes in issues pertaining to legal corruption and addresses the heated subject of adult conservatorship, revealing shocking information about the relationships between courts and shady financial consultants. She also covers issues relating to international bioweapons treaties. Her poetry has been published in Gambit, Libera, Applezaba Review, Nausea One and other magazines. Her first book, The Hitler Poems, was published in 2005. She currently resides abroad. You may browse through her articles (and poetry) at janetphelan.com
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