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A court in the Georgian capital has reinstated the license
A court in the Georgian capital has reinstated the license of indepdendent TV channel Imedi, shut down amid street protests in early November, a court spokesperson said on Thursday.

"The Tbilisi City Court annulled an earlier ruling to seize the assets and suspend the broadcasting license of the Imedi television channel at about 11:00 a.m. local time (7:00 a.m. GMT)," Natia Dzhidzholava said.

The court said that Imedi employees, who had spent the morning waiting for the court's decision near the TV station's main building, would be able to enter the office and resume work on Friday. This will be their first working day since the channel was raided and shut down after being accused by authorities of inciting a coup nearly a month ago.

"Imedi workers will be able to enter the office and resume broadcasts on December 7 - technical conditions permitting," the TV company's lawyer, Ioseb Batarashvili, said, adding that the employees would be accompanied by police and insurance company officials.

Georgian authorities earlier pledged to compensate Imedi for any damage that may have been inflicted on the company during the raid.

The court restored Imedi's broadcasting license after the Georgian government had urged the judiciary on Wednesday to allow the TV station to resume broadcasts.

The opposition movement in the tiny ex-Soviet Caucasus state had demanded that the ban on Imedi be lifted, citing lack of access to state media in the run-up to early presidential elections due on January 5. Georgia's Western allies had also pressed for a resumption of the opposition channel's broadcasts.

President Mikheil Saakashvili called early elections after riot police had clamped down on November's protests in Tbilisi. The six-day long demonstrations, with protesters calling for the president's resignation over corruption allegations, were Georgia's worst political crisis since the bloodless 2003 "rose revolution" that brought Saakashvili to power.

Saakashvili also imposed a state of emergency, banning street rallies and taking independent news broadcasts off the air. The state of emergency was lifted a week later, but Imedi remained closed.

Imedi is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. and, according to some reports, the Georgian billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili. However, Patarkatsishvili says that he sold his 49% share in the company to News Corp in 2006.

Patarkatsishvili, who is suspected by Georgian authorities of seeking to instigate a coup during November's protests, has announced plans to run for president. The businessman, who is also the owner of the Dynamo Tbilisi soccer club, currently lives abroad.


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