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11.07.2011 18:47

Questions Arising due to Accusation of and Imprisonment for Espionage of Photo-Reporters in XXI Century

David Mchedlidze
Media Discusions

Sandro Baramidze, Attorney

  1. Why were the photo-reporters detained at 3 a.m.?  Was it such an urgent matter that it could not have been done during the day?  Namely, what was the reason of such emergency?  If the matter could not have waited until next morning, why did not they do it the evening before?  Do you remember which regime used to arrest people primarily during night time?
  2. According to the new Procedural Law of the Criminal Code it is necessary to hold a court verdict in order to detain a person.  Did the MIA officers have the court verdict when they were detaining the photo-reporters?
  3. The law also provides for certain conditions in case of which a person may be detained without a court verdict.  Did any of such conditions take place in this case?  If there was such a condition, then what was it?
  4. Espionage is related to confidential information.  In order for information to be classified, the procedure of making it confidential must be fulfilled.  The law also sets for the deadlines and regulations for disclosing confidential information.  Was the information, for collecting, keeping and handover the photo-reporters are accused of, made confidential according to the law?  Or, maybe there was a legal condition, due to which the given classified information had to be disclosed?
  5. According to the law, it is not a crime for mass media sources to publicize State secret containing information, which is sufficient for public safety, or which has already been publicized before.  Maybe something like this happened in this case?\
  6. State secret is unreachable by common citizens.  How did the photo-reporters manage to obtain classified information, if it really was classified by considering all the legal procedures?
  7. The law also provides for the policy of admission of citizens to State secret.  Was such a policy considered in the given case?  Have the photo-reporters been screened in a proper way?
  8. The espionage also includes "the collection and handover to foreign country intelligence, or foreign organization of other information, harming the interests of Georgia".  What is meant under "other information"?  Maybe the law is so obscure that a person cannot even determine which of his actions are illegal or not?
  9. Why was it necessary to close the first session of court in relation to the given case?  According to the Strasbourg Court practice the principle of the publicity of court hearings is one of the most fundamental human rights.  It may be limited also due to national security motives.  Still, the existence of such motives does not automatically mean the legality of making a court hearing closed.  There must be an absolute necessity for that and a balance between the principle of publicity and national security requirements must be maintained.  Did the Tbilisi City Court consider in this case the requirements of the European Convention of Human Rights?
  10. According to the Procedural Law of the new Criminal Code, when assigning a preventive measure there must be a grounded supposition, or an evidence of the fact that a person will hide, or will not stand to court, will destroy important information, or will commit a new crime.  What specific evidence did the Tbilisi City Court have when sentencing the photo-reporters to preliminary imprisonment?

I do not know if the given photo-reporters have committed the crime they are accused of, but I would like to get the answers to all these questions, in order to know if I really live in Georgia of XXI century, or in the past, and/or in some other country.

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