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Georgian journalists' arrest not linked to work - official

RIA Novosti

14:39 08/07/2011 TBILISI, July 8 (RIA Novosti) - Thursday's detention of four prominent Georgian photojournalists is not related to their professional activities, a spokeswoman for the Georgian president said on Friday.

Four photojournalists, including Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's personal photographer and his wife, were detained on spying charges early on Thursday. They are accused of providing sensitive information to an "organization operating under the patronage of a foreign state's intelligence service."

"I shouldn't speak in detail about this extremely sensitive matter, but there is one point I'd like to clarify: this case concerns a serious information leak. It has nothing to do with journalism or media activities," Manana Mandzhgaladze said.

Mandzhgaladze said the detainees were not known for widely expressing their political views and therefore it was not correct to link their detention to a crackdown on media freedoms or political persecution.

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