9/7 Tass 71
TBILISI, July 9 (Itar-Tass) — Georgia’s interior ministry said on Saturday investigators have exposed that one of the three detained photo reporters, Zurab Kurtsikidze of the European Photo Press Agency, was linked to Russia’s military intelligence services.
“Kurtsikidze maintained contacts with officers from the main intelligence directorate of the Russian armed forces,” the Georgian Interior Ministry said in a statement. “It was also established that Kurtsikidze had contacts with Russian citizens, to who he handed over classified information via presidential administration photographer Irakly Gedenidze and Foreign Ministry photographer Giya Abdaladze.”
“The search of Gedenidze’s and Abaladze’s personal belongings and the analysis of documents in their PCs yielded photos of a sketch map of a section of the Georgian presidential residence, and information about the president’ s itinerary, details of his meetings and visits, and other classified information,” the ministry said.
The ministry’s counterintelligence agencies continue investigation to establish more evidence, the ministry said.
Earlier in the day, Tbilisi’s City Court has sentenced three photo reporters, who were detained on July 7 on espionage charges, to two months in remand prison.
On July 7, the Georgian Interior Ministry reported the detention of four Georgian photo reporters: photo reporter of the European Photo Press Agency Zurab Kurtsikidze, presidential administration photographer Irakly Gedenidze, his wife, Natiya Gedenidze (also a photographer) and Foreign Ministry photographer Giya Abdaladze. They are accused of transferring confidential information, including written documents and schedules of confidential events, to an organization, which has been defined as a spying network. On July 8, presidential press secretary Manana Mandzhgaladze pledged the detention of the four photo reporters was unrelated to their professional activity. Earlier on Saturday, one of the four, Natiya Gedenidze, was released.