ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia politician got a temporary restraining order earlier this week against a journalist blogger he accuses of threatening and harassing him.
The writer, George Chidi, denied threatening the politician and said the move is a way for the candidate to avoid answering questions about his past ahead of an upcoming election.
Chidi said he's writing a book on civic engagement in Georgia and wanted to interview DeKalb County Commission District 1 candidate Tom Owens about the public's perception of him.
"I hadn't approached him until he became a public figure," Chidi said. "He's running for a seat that's open because the incumbent has resigned and is going to jail for corruption charges."
Owens said Chidi didn't identify himself as a blogger or journalist, and that the protective order is based on the aggressive way Chidi approached him at a mid-September candidate forum. The order, which was issued Monday, accuses Chidi of stalking and says he also approached Owens at a suburban Atlanta swimming and tennis club on Sunday.
"He was very threatening, bombastic and he wouldn't identify himself as any type of reporter or blogger or anything," Owens said. "I don't talk to anybody that threatens me."
Chidi said he spoke with Owens twice in September before trying again earlier this week and sending a series of text messages.
"I wanted to give him every possible chance to answer the questions," Chidi said.
A stipulation of the order bans Chidi from being within 100 yards of Owens or contacting him in any way.
"The principle of this is severely damaging to the civil process and to journalism," Chidi said. "If a candidate for public office can shut off unfavorable coverage by abusing the temporary protective order process without penalty, that is going to happen to everybody. It is a standard practice to say that questions that you don't like are harassment," Chidi said.
The two are due in court Oct. 22.