Tbilisi: The last of three photographers charged with espionage confessed on Saturday to spying for Russia, Georgia's Interior Ministry said — a claim that surprised the photographer's own lawyer.
Ramaz Chinchaladze, lawyer for photographer Georgy Abdaladze, said his client insisted on his innocence in a meeting just ten minutes before the reported confession.
"He insisted that he was innocent, but he confessed later at a meeting with prosecutors and the investigator. We were very surprised," Chinchaladze told AP.
Three photographers in Georgia were arrested and charged with spying last week: Irakli Gedenidze, the personal photographer of President Mikhail Saakashvili, Zurab Kurtsikidze of the European Pressphoto Agency and Abdaladze, who has worked for the Georgian Foreign Ministry and freelanced for AP.
Gedenidze was shown on television last week confessing to giving EPA photographer Kurtsikidze details of the president's itinerary, motorcade route and offices. Kurtsikidze confessed to spying for Russia on Friday, according to his lawyers.
Several prominent Georgians suggested that Abdaladze and others had been pressured to confess.
The Georgia Interior Ministry said investigators believe Kurtsikidze had connections with Russia's military intelligence unit, GRU, and hired the other two photographers to provide secret information.
The government has said investigators found classified images on the photographers' computers, including floor plans of the presidential palace and information about the president's itinerary, visits and meetings.