New Legat Office Opens in Republic of Georgia
On the Ground in Georgia
New Overseas Office Opens for Business
It's no surprise that we have agents in Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia. What you may not know is that we now have agents in the republic of Georgia—the former Soviet bloc country that's nestled between Turkey and Russia on the Black Sea.
The office, one of more than 50 legal attaché offices or Legats worldwide, was opened this past year in the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi—Georgia's capital since the fifth century on the banks of the River Kura.
Why Georgia? Legal Attaché C. Bryan Paarmann points out, "Georgia is the cradle of democracy in the former Soviet Union and is one of our strongest allies in the global war on terror. It's also geographically strategic, particularly in the fight against Eurasian transnational crime."
We've been working with our overseas partners in Georgia for years—but at a distance, as the office was previously covered by our Legats in the Ukraine and Turkey. Now, Special Agent Paarmann, Special Agent Mark Kirby, and Operations Assistant Wendy Johnson are on the ground to more easily build relationships in Georgia and in the neighboring countries of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Our partnerships with the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Office of the Prosecutor General are already paying dividends: these two agencies worked together with us to track down a man suspected of throwing a live grenade in an attempt to assassinate President Bush during his visit to Georgia in May. The man was arrested and indicted by a U.S. federal court in September.
The Tbilisi legat has also helped investigate the suspicious death of a Georgian Prime Minister, looked into arms smuggling out of Armenia, and helped break a major kidnapping ring in Azerbaijan.
"We have established—and enjoy—very warm and cordial relationships with the law enforcement, security, and intelligence agencies in these three countries," Paarmann says. "We are working together daily to combat those crimes and security issues that affect our respective countries."
For the record, how do our Legats work? Each legal attaché office is led by a special agent, who works directly and openly with the international colleagues in his or her geographic area. They don't have authority to conduct investigations overseas (unless given express permission by the host country); rather, they work with their international partners to pursue leads in our cases with global links and to address larger global security issues like terrorism, international organized crime, and cyber attacks. And our legats return the favor, coordinating requests for investigative assistance for other country's cases that have ties to the U.S.
How do you contact the Tbilisi Legat? Call the U.S. Embassy at 011-995-32-98-9967.
For more information about the republic of Georgia, see the CIA World Factbook and the U.S. Embassy website. To read more stories about our Legats and other international operations, see our story index.