News you may have missed #547

Imtiaz Ahmad

Imtiaz Ahmad

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Finland cancels visa of ex-KGB general. We reported recently on the case of Mikhail Golovatov, a former commander of the Soviet KGB’s Alpha Group, who is wanted in Lithuania for alleged war crimes against the country’s secession movement in the early 1990s. Last week, Austria arrested Golovatov, but released him 24 hours later, claiming that his Lithuanian-issued European arrest warrant was “too vague” to justify his continued detention. There are now reports that the Finnish embassy in Moscow has annulled the Schengen visa it had previously issued to the former KGB officer. In a statement, Finnish officials said they would not have granted Golovatov a visa in the first place, except there had been “a spelling mistake in Golovatov’s first name”, which made them think he the applicant was not General Golovatov of KGB fame. Hmmm…. ►►Georgian ‘spy photographers’ to be released. In a bizarre twist to the ‘photojournalist spies’ saga in Georgia, the government has announced that the three will be released under an agreed plea-bargain deal, because they had given the authorities “information of particular importance for national security” about Russian intelligence operations in Georgia. The three have allegedly “revealed the identities of Russian spies working in the country as well as the names of their Georgian collaborators and cover organizations operating on behalf of Moscow”. The three, Zurab Kurtsikidze, Irakli Gedenidze and Giorgi Abdaladze, are all professional photojournalists, who are accused by Tbilisi of spying for Moscow. ►►Pakistani ex-spy director says US owes Pakistan. Imtiaz Ahmed (often spelled Ahmad) is the former Director General of Pakistan’s main domestic intelligence agency, the Intelligence Bureau (IB). In a recent interview, he accused the United States of using the ‘war on terrorism’ as a strategic pretext for capturing energy resources and limiting China’s economic growth. He also said that the US owes the Pakistani intelligence agencies, because without them it could not have accomplished its task in the Afghan war against the Soviet Union. IntelNews readers may remember the last time Ahmad had made headlines, when he revealed a series of CIA operations against Pakistan’s nuclear program.

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