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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Businessman Jailed Over Visa Trip

A U.S. businessman was convicted by a Georgian court Wednesday of attempting to enter the country illegally via Abkhazia while on a visa run.

Sochi-based businessman Dale De Rosa was detained Saturday by Georgian border guards on his way from Sochi to Istanbul, Turkey, where he was due to renew his Russian visa, his wife, Natalya Nevskaya, said by telephone from Sochi on Wednesday.

Nevskaya said her husband, originally from Santa Cruz, California, was facing up to five years in prison. He will remain in custody until his sentencing, which is expected within the next two months, she said. The court in Batumi, Adzharia, set De Rosa's bail at $1,700.

Batumi authorities could not be reached for comment, nor could officials at the Georgian Embassy in Moscow or the Foreign Ministry in Tbilisi.

Lindsay Henderson, an official at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, visited De Rosa in jail in Batumi on Tuesday, Nevskaya said.

Henderson declined to comment on the case Wednesday.

While U.S. citizens do not need visas to enter Georgia, it is illegal to enter Georgia via the self-proclaimed republic of Abkhazia, which has enjoyed de facto independence from Georgia since the end of a civil war in 1993.

Georgian authorities require all those entering any part of its territory to have Georgian border guards register their arrival with a stamp in their passports.

De Rosa is employed as a business consultant by the Sochi-based Sfera tourist agency. Sfera issued the official invitation for De Rosa to obtain the visa, said Viktor Kivin, the head of the company.