Statement of the Media Advocacy Coalition Over Declassification of the Materials Related to Photographers' Detention

20 Jul, 2011

On July 19, 2011 the Coalition for Media Advocacy called on Murtaz Zodelava, Chief Prosecutor of Georgia, Vano Merabishvili, Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia, and Giga Bokeria, Secretary of  National Security Council to disclose information classified as secret related to the case of recently arrested photographers. 

“Dear Sirs,

As far as you are awareCounterintelligence Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia has detained Zurab Kurtsikidze (a representative of the European Photo Agency in Georgia), Giorgi Abdaladze (a photo reporter of the Foreign Ministry of Georgia) and Irakli Gedenidze (a photo reporter of the press service of the President’s Administration).

At a meeting with the Coalition for Media Advocacy members the Minister of the Internal Affairs said that only some parts, containing state secret, and not the entire case was classified as secret. Moreover, Shota Utiashvili, head of the Analytical Department of the Ministry or Internal Affairs, confirmed in his official statement made in a TV program on July 15, 2011, that the information was partially classified.

Despite the facts mentioned above, lawyers of the detainees have said they had signed a non-disclosure letter and the materials related to the case have been kept totally secret.   The conflicting statements have further increased public confusion.  Despite great public interest, civil society does not have access to the information related to the case.  Neither authorized public officials nor lawyers of the detainees have provided this information.

Because of the great public interest, we demand that the materials be made open and accessible. Moreover, we would request to change the terms of the letter signed by the lawyers and give them right to disseminate case-related information.

The coalition hopes for your prompt response, provided in a written form.”

Coalition members:

1. Association of Regional Media of Georgia
2. For Civil Society, a non-governmental organization
3. Association of Regional Broadcasters of Georgia
4. Regional Broadcasters’ Network
5. Charter of Journalistic Ethics of Georgia
6. Media Club
7. International Transparency
8. The Young Lawyers’ Association of Georgia
9. Civil Development Institute
10. The Open Society Georgia Foundation
11. Eurasian Cooperation Fund