Georgia : Detained Photo-Reporters Do Not Plead Guilty
Early in the morning of July 7, from 3:00 am to 5:00 am famous Georgian photo-reporters were detained simultaneously in their houses: photo-reporter of the Associated Press Shah Aivazov, photo-reporter of the European Press-Photo Agency (EPA) in Georgia Zurab Kurtsikidze, personal photo-reporter of the President of Georgia Irakli Gedenidze, his wife Natia Gedenidze and photo-reporter of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Giorgi Abdaladze.
The family members did not have information about the whereabouts of the detainees until midday. They were looking for the photo-reporters in various police stations. The detainees could not call their family members either.
In the afternoon, the MIA announced that Counter-Intelligence Department arrested the photo-reporters who are accused under Article 134 of the Criminal Code of Georgia. According to the MIA, the detainees are accused of providing several organizations working in favor of the Special Forces of the particular foreign state with the information against the interests of the Georgian state; they cooperated with the organizations due to their professional activities.
At about 12:00 pm photo-reporter of the Associated Press Shah Aivazov was freed. He made a short comment with journalists and said he was interrogated as a witness and treated him politely. He said he had no information about other detainees. Aivazov did not answer other questions of the journalists.
At 1:00 pm journalists held a protest demonstration in front of the so-called Moduli building – office of the Special Operative Department of the MIA. The Human Rights Center also participated in the demonstration.
Soon, the lawyers left the Moduli building and made very short comments. They said the law enforcement bodies had launched the case under Griffith Secret and could not speak about details.
Gia Abdaladze’s lawyer Ramaz Chinchaladze said the detained photo-reporters do not plead guilty. Editor of the Alia Holding Dimitry Tikaradze said Giorgi Abdaladze started hunger-strike in protest.
The Human Rights Center’s lawyer Nino Andriashvili protects Zurab Kurtsikidze from the EPA. She said Kurtsikidze had some signs of oppression on the face.
The European Press Photo Agency tries to find out reasons of the detention of their photo reporter Zurab Kurtsikidze with the government of Georgia; the editorial department of the agency told the InterPressNews. “We have permanent contact with them and we are trying to find out what he is accused of,” the agency representatives said. They added they do not know which particular photos became ground of Kurtsikidze’s detention.
Georgian Journalistic Ethic Charter, with 200 journalists in it, is concerned about the detention of photo-reporters and requests the MIA to immediately clarify the reasons and official ground of photo-reporters’ detention.
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