Photo correspondent detained for alleged spying
14 July, 2011

 

“Every journalist of us must go to the Constitutional Security Department to confess we all are spies”

I was stunned to learn that my friend and colleague Giorgi Abdaladze was arrested on the spying allegation. It was revealed that together with other detainees he was supplying information to an intelligence service of a certain country.

Alleged spying of photo reporter Giorgi Abdaladze surprised me more than an accusation of trying to dig a Bombay-London tunnel. I went to all lengths to imagine my friend as a spy but failed. I saw him three weeks prior to the day of his arrest. The 26 May wounds were still healing. Giorgi too was coughing. He said it started that night. He was telling me the story of his poisoning with tear gas and how he intuitively found his way to Kashweti Church with his eyes and mouth shut. Only there he put on the gas mask he was carrying in his pocket.

 

When he came to senses, he set up the photographic camera and returned to the scene. He could not have done otherwise. He had to be at every hot spot, where you need courage to do the job. He did not change during the last 12 years since the day when I started working on Media Palitra Holding and got to know him. Very soon after our befriending, Giorgi suffered from severe head and face bruises caused by the truncheons of Shevardnadze’s execution forces headed by Temur Mghebrishvili. Next, he turned up in a Tskhinvali prison after he tried to fulfill his professional duty in Ergneti. Only interference of Media Palitra Management saved him from prison.

During our last meeting before his arrest, Giorgi was recalling the early night events of 26 May: “We, reporters of the state structures did a good job. The Special Forces were not interfering. We were recording everything.” May be today somebody is bashing his head against the wall for the fault of giving green light to reporters of state structures.

We, at the Media Palitra nicknamed him “Paparazzi” for his hunch and sharp eye. So, when I try to imagine Paparazzi as a spy, what strikes my mind is an odd thing. It’s his photos of Gori bombing and other August war episodes. These photos travelled around the globe familiarizing everybody in the world with the violent August events in Georgia. Giorgi was risking his life when he took them. Any moment he could have become a target of enemy. Yet, he never stepped back because Georgia needed it. Why or how can a man be a spy if he loves his or her homeland? Convince me if you can! Otherwise, I will interpret his arrest as another stark warning to all of us – journalists, and I will view myself as the next victim tomorrow!

According to the lawyer of Gia Abdaladze, he is accused of harming the interests of Georgia, supplying all kinds of information to a certain organization which was working under the intelligence services of one of the countries. The case is classified. It foresees imprisonment from 8 to 12 years; but why, for doing what?

P.S. Here is a solution: all independent journalists must go to the Constitutional Security Department and confess that we are spies, and that we were transferring photos and messages to foreign information agencies, even talking to them on the phone. These all make us perfectly legal targets of spying accusations. Can they arrest all of us then? Cannot we alleviate the situation of our colleagues at least in this way?

 

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