Georgia: Photographers “Infiltrated” Institutions

Posted July 8th, 2011 at 7:35 am (UTC-5)
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Georgia's president has defended the arrest of four photographers suspected of spying.

President Mikheil Saakashvili said Friday the news photographers conducted, in his words, a “serious infiltration of our institutions.”

The four news photographers, including the president's personal photographer, were arrested Thursday.

They are accused of passing confidential information to a foreign country. Tbilisi often accuses Russia of operating spy networks on Georgian territory.

Georgia's interior ministry says the four journalists include the president's photographer Irakli Gedenidze and his photographer wife Natia, European Pressphoto Agency photographer Zurab Kurtsikidze, and Foreign Ministry press photographer Georgy Abdaladze.

Reports said police raided the photographers' homes during the night and seized computers, cell phones, and other equipment.

On Wednesday, a Georgian court sentenced nine people, including at least one Russian, to jail terms ranging from 11 to 14 years for spying for Russia.

Georgia and Russia fought a short, but brutal, war over territory in 2008.