Faced with a growing outcry over the arrest of three prominent photographers on espionage charges, the Georgian government on July 13 took action to counter criticism that a desire to stifle a press freedom is a major motivation for the spy case.
The government maintains that President Mikheil Saakashvili’s personal photographer, Irakli Gedenidze, and Giorgi Abdaladze, a freelance photographer for the Foreign Ministry, were taking photos of classified government information and supplying them to a correspondent for the Frankfurt-based European Pressphoto Agency, Zurab Kurtsikidze. The government alleges that Kurtsikidze, in turn, was passing the material to Russian military intelligence.
Aside from a videotaped statement by Gedenidze, the presidential photographer, evidence released to support the government’s claims so far has been limited to images of a plan of the presidential residence, a presidential itinerary, a description of a presidential meeting and recordings of phone calls about payments from Frankfurt.
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Giorgi Lomsadze is a freelance journalist based in Tbilisi. He is a frequent contributor to EurasiaNet's Tamada Tales blog.