Georgia’s Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze, said that one of the arrested photographers into espionage case, who was hired by his ministry, had no authorized access to secret documents, but he could have still gained such access illegally as he was using MFA’s computers.
Giorgi Abdaladze, who faces espionage charges in favor of Russia, was a freelancer who also was a contract photographer with the Georgian Foreign Ministry and also worked as a stringer for the Associated Press.
“Each employee of the Foreign Ministry, who has a diplomatic post or rank, has access to secret information. Of course, persons, who work here [in the Foreign Ministry] on a contract basis and a person, who is a photographer, cannot have access to secret information. But, as this person was uploading photos [of various events in the Foreign Ministry] in several computers, he could have gained access to some documents through these computers,” Grigol Vashadze said.
“These files are well-protected, but only employees of the Foreign Ministry are authorized to access those documents,” he added.
Echoing remarks by other senior government officials on the issue, Vashadze also insisted that the investigation had “solid evidence” to prove its case against the arrested photographers.
“Let us all wait for the trial, because in any democratic state the court is the last instance, which has to give its verdict,” Vashadze said.
“As for the speculations, disseminated in some – I do not know how to call them - so called newspapers, as if the authorities intend to restrict freedom of speech, it would be ridiculous to even comment on those [allegations],” he added.
Vashadze was speaking with journalists after meeting with a group of Tbilisi-based foreign diplomats, whom, he said, he had briefed about recent major developments in the country.
Abdaladze’s job with the Foreign Ministry and whether he could have had any access to any sensitive information available in the Foreign Ministry was the main issue on which Deputy Foreign Minister, Nino Kalandadze, was pressed during her regular Monday news conference this week.
Kalandadze said on July 11, that Abdaladze was working for the Foreign Ministry since 2009 on the contract basis and he was not the ministry’s staff member. While saying that Abdaladze was not a staff member, Kalandadze also insisted that the photojournalist was still regarded “as a full-fledged employee of the Foreign Ministry” and claimed that like any other employee of the Foreign Ministry, Abdaladze too could have had access to confidential information available in the ministry.