Georgia’s new foreign agent bill, signed into law on Monday despite prolonged and passionate public outcry and a presidential veto, threatens writers, artists, and other cultural workers who express opinions contrary to the current government policies. By requiring organizations that receive more than 20 percent of their funding from outside the country to register as “agents of foreign influence,” the law effectively stigmatizes and threatens any individual or group unable to secure funding within Georgia, usually due to political allegiances.

“The foreign agent law provides legal cover for the harassment of writers, artists, journalists, and others who already faced significant pressure to limit their free expression. In today’s Georgia, jobs and funding are granted to people and organizations that toe the party line. For example, we’ve seen Georgia’s Ministry of Culture target writers, artists, and other cultural figures by cutting off publicly-funded opportunities and unjustly firing them from national cultural institutions,” said Summer Lopez, chief program officer of free expression programs at PEN America.

“The foreign agent law is the latest sign of a decline in Georgia’s adherence to international human rights and democratic norms. The freedom of all citizens to express themselves—even when their views are critical of the government—should be supported rather than stigmatized. We urge the Georgian government to overturn the foreign agent law. Additionally, we call on the international community to continue signaling that the law is unacceptable and incompatible with the universal right to freedom of expression.”

Georgia’s foreign agent law was pulled from consideration last year following mass public protests. Members of parliament from the Georgian Dream party reintroduced the bill under a new name in April 2024. Georgia is one of a growing number of countries, including Türkiye, that have introduced similar legislation, which experts warn could be a significant blow to free expression. These bills are seemingly modeled on Russia’s foreign agent law, which has enabled the harassment of journalists and writers and even resulted in the banning of multiple news outlets and authors.

PEN America’s report Taming Culture in Georgia details how, in recent years, Georgia’s Ministry of Culture has targeted independent cultural figures who criticized the government or expressed views at odds with the government’s line. Many cultural figures and political experts in Georgia urged international support for the independent work of artists, writers, and cultural figures in the face of such attacks on their work and free expression.

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at

Contact: Dietlind Lerner [email protected]