The prosecutor conducting investigation concerning photographers charged with espionage requested a suspended sentence in the court. After announcing the verdict, the photojournalists were released from custody.
As we have already reported, Georgian photojournalists accused of spying confessed to collaboration with Russian intelligence service. They were to convey materials regarding President Mikheil Saakashvili’s journeys. At the same time, suspects asked the prosecutor for a pre-trial agreement with no contest plea.
The prosecutor’s office acceded to the request of the detainees. At the press conference, a prosecuting attorney justified such action on the grounds of photojournalists’ cooperation with investigators and disclosure of information valuable to Georgian intelligence. Obtained information contained a list of Russian intelligence’s informants in Georgia and data concerning plans, methods and information transfer channels used by GRU.
Agreeing on photojournalists’ proposition, the prosecutor’s office asked the judge for imposing suspended sentences for three suspects without a trial.
The judge accepted the request. Photojournalist of the European agency EPA Zurab Kurtsikidze was given two-year sentence suspended for three years. Photographer of the Georgian MFA Giorgi Abdaladze and President’s own photograph Irakli Gedenidze’s sentences were three years suspended for four. After the pronouncement, all the accused were released from an arrest.
Advocates of the defendants do not exclude that their clients’ admissions of guilt were forced by investigators. Georgian and international community of journalists stood up for the photographs.