Georgian President's photographer held for spying

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The Independent Online

The Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's personal photographer has been arrested on espionage charges in the latest in a long line of spy scandals to rock the former Soviet republic.

Irakli Gedenidze was arrested with his wife, also a photographer, early yesterday. In separate raids, the Georgian police also detained two other photojournalists.

According to the authorities, they each face charges of "passing information to the special services of a foreign country, to the detriment of Georgia's interests". If convicted they face up to 12 years in prison.

Mr Gedenidze accompanied Mr Saakashvili to meetings with world leaders, as well as on his frequent travels. Many of the best-known photographs of the President were taken by Mr Gedenidze. The case has been classified as secret, meaning that lawyers for the detainees are prevented from speaking about it, and that any future trial will be held behind closed doors.