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Detained photographer's story unclear as spy scandal continues

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, July 20
An inaccuracy has been found in photo reporter Giorgi Abdaladze’s testimony, and a statement regarding the issue was made by Zviad Dolidze, a journalist of the Gza magazine, on July 19.

Giorgi Abdaladze went to Ergneti, where he was detained, in 2000 and not in 2002 as he said in his testimony- Dolidze said and recalled how the photo reporter was sent to Ergneti to take photos in early May 2000, "it was May of 2000, Ergneti was a very actual theme, I made a reporting there and brought it to Tbilisi after which a photographer, Abdaladze was sent there. He should have come back on the second day, however later we learnt that he was detained. I don't know why there was such inaccuracy in the testimony, it is unimaginable for me. A man who works as a spy to forget such an important date," Dolidze said. (Abdaladze said in his testimony that in 2002, when he worked as a photo reporter for the newspaper Kviris Palitra, he was sent to Ergneti by the outlet and was detained there)

Prior to Dolidze's statement Eka Beselia, head of the NGO Solidarity to Illegal Prisoners, who is also one of the lawyers of Abdaladze, has released a statement concerning Giorgi Abdaladze’s admission of guilt.

Beselia addresses the Georgian law-enforcement, NGOs, international organizations, human rights organizations, media, and the Kviris Palitra newspaper, "We have to make clear several details regarding Abdaladze’s admission of guilt. Namely, it should be clarified whether Abdaladze really was detained in Tskhinvali in 2002 or not. Kviris Paltira might have photos depicting the above-mentioned event. We have to ascertain the truth together’, the address says.

Alongside the statement, Youth organizations of the six oppositional political parties held an event in support of the detained photojournalists in Rike Park the same day. They say the admission of guilt by the detainees and materials released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs do not prove the guilt of the detainees.

Representatives of the Free Democrats, National Forum, People’s Party, Way of Georgia, Conservative Party and Republican Party participated in it.

While all opposition parties and the majority of Georgian society do not believe that the photographers are spies, the authorities are standing firm, ‘We are not surprised that Russian special services are actively working on the territories controlled by the Georgian government, and especially on the occupied territories. It is a bitter reality’, Giga Bokeria, Secretary of the Security Council, stated.

According to Bokeria, detention of the photo reporters on the charge of espionage was a very unpleasant experience for him, as he personally knew them, "The trial will ascertain whether the people are spies or not. We knew them very well, and consequently their detention was very unpleasant for us’, Bokeria said.

According to Bokeria, the Georgian government does not accuse anybody of espionage because of his/her political opinion.

‘It is a new theory discussed in the Georgian media. They say they took photos at the May 26 rally. It is difficult to make a serious comment in this regard. Tens of photo reporters were working on May 26. They took thousands of photos. I’ll remind you that Georgia is not the only country where Russia is trying to organize spy nets, " Bokeria said.