Georgia charges photojournalists with spying for Russia

Irakli Gedenidze

Irakli Gedenidze

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Three well-known Georgian photojournalists have been arrested and charged with conducting espionage on behalf of the Russian Federation. They include Irakli Gedenidze, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili’s personal photographer, as well as Giorgi Abdaladze, who works for Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The leader of the alleged spy ring is Zurab Kurtsikidze, who works for Frankfurt-based European Pressphoto Agency. All three were arrested in early morning raids last Thursday, during which their homes and offices were searched by Georgian counterintelligence officers. A Georgian government statement issued the following day stated that the searches uncovered confidential information about the daily itinerary of Mr Saakashvili, as well as a classified diagram of the Presidential office. According to the statement, the classified documents were secretly accessed and photographed by Gedenidze and Abdaladze, who then passed them on to Kurtsikidze. He in turn turned them over to the GRU, the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian Defense Ministry. Along with the statement, Georgian government prosecutors released surveillance recordings of telephone exchanges between the three photographers, in which they are heard discussing payment arrangements in return for classified documents surrendered to the Russians. Read more of this post

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News you may have missed #399

  • Alleged Lebanese spy for Israel flees to Germany, says Lebanon. Lebanese media claim that Rasan al-Jud, who Lebanese authorities accuse of having aided Israel with the help of employees at Alfa, Lebanon’s state-owned cellular telecommunications provider, has fled Lebanon and is currently in Frankfurt, Germany. But a German Foreign Ministry spokesman has said that “the Foreign Ministry does not have any particular knowledge about the news item”.
  • Japan defends costly visit by Korean spy. Japan’s government has defended a costly four-day visit by Kim Hyun-Hee,  a former North Korean spy, who blew up a South Korean jet in 1987, killing 115 people. Despite the high expectations, the former spy produced little news about Japanese nationals kidnapped decades ago by Pyongyang.
  • Analysis: Slaying the US intelligence behemoth. Commenting on the recent Washington Post investigative series on the US intelligence complex, author Philip Smucker comments that there is an essential disconnect at work. Namely, Islamic perceptions are not understood to be ‘hard intelligence’. The US is still trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, or to apply conventional intelligence to an asymmetrical world.

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Iranian defector briefed UN inspectors on Iran nuclear program

Iranian nuclear facility in Qum

Qum facility

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
An Iranian nuclear scientist who vanished during a pilgrimage to Mecca last June has defected to the West and has briefed American and United Nations officials about Iran’s nuclear program. As intelNews reported on October 9, rumors have been circulating in the Arab press that Shahram Amiri, a senior figure in the Iranian nuclear research program, was not abducted by Saudi and Western intelligence agencies, as Iran claims, but actually defected to the West. Now British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph has cited “a source close to France’s overseas secret service, the DGSE”, who claims that Amiri’s defection was facilitated through a carefully planned intelligence operation involving the CIA, as well as French and German operatives. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0042

  • Postcards containing Cold War spy messages unearthed. The postcards, containing chess moves, were posted in 1950 by an unidentified man in Frankfurt, thought to have been an undercover agent, to Graham Mitchell, who was then deputy director general of MI5. The problem is, researchers are not quite sure whether the cryptic text on the postcards is based on British or Soviet codes, because Mitchell was suspected of being a secret Soviet agent at the time.
  • Is NSA actively mapping social networks? There are rumors out there that NSA is monitoring social networking tools, such as Tweeter, Facebook and MySpace, in order to make links between individuals and construct elaborate data-mining-based maps of who associates with whom.
  • US Senate bill would disclose intelligence budget. The US Senate version of the FY2010 intelligence authorization bill would require the President to disclose the aggregate amount requested for intelligence each year. Disclosure of the budget request would enable Congress to appropriate a stand-alone intelligence budget that would no longer need to be concealed misleadingly in other non-intelligence budget accounts.

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