Statement of the Media Advocacy Coalition over the case of detained photographers

11 Jul, 2011

July 7 of this year the Ministry of Internal Affairs detained four Georgian photo-reporters. They are accused of espionage, namely according to the MIA explanation, collection, keeping and handover to representatives of foreign organization of a document containing Georgian State secret and other types of data.

“The Case of Photographers” has resulted in unprecedented interest from the society, as it results and ongoing process will directly affect the perspectives of free media development in Georgia. Despite that it appears that the Ministry of Internal Affairs does not intend to publicize the case fully. None of the evidences publicized by the Interior Ministry July 9 have convinced the society in the truthfulness of the accusation. Even the testimony of the Gedenidze’s is not a reliable proof of the fact that Zurab Kurtsikidze and Gia Abdaladze have been related to one of foreign intelligence networks.

We believe, due to the shortage of information society is unable to make full assessment of the events to make correct conclusions. Available information is fragmentary and not convincing. This makes us believe that the government intentionally conceals the case details from the society and is putting pressure on representatives of Georgian media.

Media Advocacy Coalition believes that due to the non-transparency of the given case, every free journalist working in Georgia are feeling endangered, as the government my use such methods of punishment against any other free journalist.

Considering the above mentioned the Coalition requests: for the coinciding governmental bodies to annul the label “confidential” and to make the investigation transparent. Such an action would be a correct decision of Georgian government.

We would like to stress that ignoring of public interests by the government is unacceptable for us. In case if the case details will not be publicized in the nearest future, the latest actions by the government will be counted as a direct pressure on Georgian media and Georgian journalism and the detainees will be considered prisoners of conscience. In that case we will use different types of public activities and will use all means of public pressure for freeing the journalists from prison.