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Georgian news photographers `spied for Russia`

Three Georgian photojournalists have been charged with espionage for giving secret data to Russia.

Updated: Jul 10, 2011, 09:19 AM IST

Tbilisi: Three Georgian photojournalists,
including the president`s personal photographer, have been
charged with espionage for allegedly giving secret data to
enemy Russia, officials said Saturday.

The interior ministry alleged that confidential
documents, plans and pictures gathered by the photographers
were passed to military intelligence agency officers from
pro-Western Georgia`s arch foe Russia.

President Mikheil Saakashvili`s personal photographer
Irakli Gedenidze, foreign ministry photographer Giorgi
Abdaladze and European Pressphoto Agency (EPA) photographer
Zurab Kurtsikidze were arrested in overnight raids Thursday.

"The investigation has concluded that Zurab
Kurtsikidze had links with the defence ministry intelligence
services of the Russian Federation," an interior ministry
statement said.

It said that Gedenidze and Abdaladze took photographs
of secret documents that they accessed through their work for
the state, which Kurtsikidze then sent to Moscow.

Georgia fought a war with Russia in 2008 and has
repeatedly accused Moscow of running espionage operations on
its territory.

The ministry said counter-intelligence officers found
confidential information about the president`s movements,
details of his meetings and plans of his administration
building when the photographers` homes were searched.

Bureau Report