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Four Photojournalists Arrested over Espionage-Related Charges
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 7 Jul.'11 / 13:14

The Interior Ministry has confirmed arresting four photographers, including one working for President Saakashvili’s press office.

The Interior Ministry said in a brief statement that detained persons were accused of providing “in detriment of Georgia’s interests various information through their professional activities to an organization” working for “one of the foreign country’s special services.”

Police arrested overnight on Thursday Irakli Gedenidze, photographer with the presidential press service and his wife Natia Gedenidze, also a photographer working for the Tbilisi-based PrimeTime newspaper, as well as Zurab Kurtsikidze, photographer for the European Pressphoto Agency (epa) and Giorgi Abdaladze, photographer who is currently hired by the Foreign Ministry.

The Interior Ministry’s statement does not provide other details.

Shakh Aivazov, a long-time photojournalist now working for The Associated Press, was also taken by the police last night, but was released shortly after the noon on July 7.

A wife of Giorgi Abdaladze, one of the detained photographer, told journalists, that the police came to their house shortly after 2am local time, searched the house and took computers, mobile phones, CDs and a flashcard.

She also said that an investigator present during the search told her the case involved part one of article 314 of the criminal code, which deals with espionage charges, in particular with gathering state secret information and passing it to foreign country.

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