Georgian officials refuse comment on reports of spy arrests
Officials in Tbilisi on Friday refused to confirm or deny reports that 20 Georgian citizens had been arrested on suspicion of spying for arch-rival Russia.
Media reports quoting anonymous security sources said the 20 suspects, all citizens of Georgia, had formed a spy network and passed sensitive information to Russia.
"We can neither confirm nor deny this information," Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili told AFP, though he added that "we will be making an announcement in the next few days."
Other senior Georgian officials reached by AFP also refused to comment.
Georgia and Russia fought a brief war in August 2008 that saw Russian forces pour into the country to repel a Georgian military attempt to retake the Moscow-backed rebel region of South Ossetia.
Tensions between the two neighbours had been growing for years in the run-up to the war, including after the 2006 arrest of four Russian military officers on espionage charges. The four were eventually released and returned to Russia.
© 2010 AFP