One of the four photojournalists, arrested on July 7, Natia Gedenidze, was released and three others charged with espionage in the early hours of Saturday, a lawyer for one of them said.
Prosecution requested court for pre-trial detention for Natia Gedenidze’s husband, Irakli Gedenidze, a personal photographer of President Saakashvili; Giorgi Abdaladze, a freelancer who was also working with the Foreign Ministry and Zurab Kurtsikidze, photographer for the European Pressphoto Agency (epa).
Hearing on precautionary, pre-trial measure for the three detainees is currently ongoing in the Tbilisi City Court behind the closed doors, as the case has been classified as secret.
Ramaz Chinchaladze, who is Giorgi Abdaladze's lawyer, told Civil.ge that the charges were brought against the three photographers under part one of article 314 of criminal code, which deals with espionage, in particular with gathering state secret information and passing it to a foreign country. The charges carry potential penalty of eight to 12 years in jail. Chinchaladze said his client, Giorgi Abdaladze, insisted on his innocence.
Asked about the arrest of photographers in Georgia, U.S. Department of State’s spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, said at a press briefing in Washington on July 8: “I think we would say here what we say to the Georgian Government and to governments around the world privately, that we expect a free, fair, accountable, transparent judicial proceeding in this case and in others.”