Detained Georgian photographers 'spied for Russia': ministry

9th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Three Georgian news photographers detained Thursday on suspicion of espionage were supplying secret information to Russia, the Georgian interior ministry said Saturday in a statement.

The statement alleged that European Pressphoto Agency photographer Zurab Kurtsikidze sent images taken by two other photographers to the Russian defence ministry's intelligence services.

Three prominent Georgian photo journalists including Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's personal photographer Irakli Gedenidze were arrested in overnight raids on Thursday and accused of spying for a foreign country.

The ministry said that confidential information about the president's movements and plans of his administration building were found when the photographers were detained.

"The investigation has concluded that Zurab Kurtsikidze had links with the defence ministry intelligence services of the Russian Federation," the statement said.

It added that the president's personal photographer Gedenidze and foreign ministry press centre photographer Giorgi Abdaladze were paid to take photographs which Kurtsikidze then sent to Moscow.

Gedenidze's wife Natia, a local newspaper photographer, was also arrested on Thursday but has since been released.

The three detainees were due to appear in court behind closed doors in Tbilisi on Saturday, when they were expected to be held in pre-trial detention.

© 2011 AFP

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