21 July, 2011

‘They threatened to carry out reprisal to the other inmate on the spot’

At the actions supporting the arrested photo correspondents, almost every day I used to meet Nestan Neidze, wife of my colleague Giorgi Abdaladze who is accused of espionage. We tried to remember every detail of Giorgi’s activity that could serve as a reason for accusing him in actions resembling spying. Fortunately we couldn’t find anything to get hold on. Then I asked Nestan to recall the day when her husband was arrested.

Nestan Neidze: It was dawn of July 7 and my birthday was coming. Gia came home late. It was after 1 o’clock at night. He brought me a big bouquet of flowers, woke me up and took photos of me embracing our child and bouquet. Then we went to bed. Soon in my dream I heard the doorbell. When I looked at the clock it was after 2 o’clock. Gia went to open the door and in two minutes he returned accompanied by 2-3 men. They told him to dress and followed him into the room. They were dressed in plain clothes, behaved very correctly and calmly. Four of them were task force members and the fifth one – the investigator of counter-intelligence. I asked what the charge was and they said Giorgi knew everything. Gia was hurrying to the module because he was sure he’d return soon. Then they told us that Gia was accused of espionage. It sounded so absurd that I couldn’t help laughing. I thought everything would be clarified in a couple of hours.

Q.- It’s often said that they were punished because of spreading  May 26 night photos.

A.- Irakli Gedenidze was punished for this and even very seriously. So, he couldn’t be a lonely spy… Gia wrote to me in his first letter that he thought it was connected with May 26.

Q.- Gia told me that he took Nika Kvintradze’s photo with his hands tied and he seemed alive. Later this photo was shown in Nana Lezhava’s show.

A.- Irakli too had that photo so nobody can say outright whether it belongs to Irakli or Giorgi. Irakli spread the best shots through Reuter but without indicating his name. If Stinger doesn’t want to display identity, Reuter keeps it secret. The most gory shots were made by Irakli. He gave to Zura whatever was left there after sending the material to Reuter and he sent

it to EPA, his agency. Gia’s photos are permanently at ‘Associated Press’ and from there the May 26 photos were published in the ‘New York Times’, the Washington Post’ and other serious publications. It seems that after publishing of the photos they began to clarify through whom the shots were spread to ‘Reuter’ and the names of all reporters who were working that night became known.

Q. – I asked him for Kvintradze’ photo but he refused. He always gave everything to ‘ Kviris Palitra’. He said it wouldn’t be right.

A. – He also remembered that somebody called him and asked for that photo but he said he had deleted it.

Q. – How does he send his letters?

A. – When he was in the module he wrote them himself but now the lawyer remembers the text and retells us orally. Gia’s confession amazed me. I prayed for him to keep mum to the end. It’s hard to imagine what’s going on inside there. As they say they are under awful pressure. Lately the events are unfolding very strangely. First, the jail administration refused Eka Beselia to visit him saying that Giorgi declined her candidacy and she was no more his lawyer. Eka demanded that Giorgi say it himself. When they met it turned out that he didn’t reject her. Now they say that he confessed but the lawyers met him shortly before confession and he said he wasn’t going to break but suddenly a miracle happened – in five minutes the lawyers were taken back to him, some people with cameras entered the room and Giorgi started talking indistinctly. The lawyers are amazed as well as me…

What were the discrepancies of confession made by photo reporter Giorgi Abdaladze accused of espionage? Eka Beseia who is convinced that the confession was made as a result of pressure on part of the investigator talked to ‘Kviris Palitra’.

Eka Beselia: I had an impression that Gia Abdaladze’s confession was gained through pressure. The day before when I visited him the prison administration didn’t let me in saying that Abdaladze was requesting my rejection. I thought that exactly at that time he was being under pressure. I still managed to see him that day. He told me that Kurtsikidze’s testimony subdued him greatly. He got interested in my point of view regarding this matter. I advised him not to confess in anything as he didn’t commit any crime. He promised me to act accordingly. I left the place at about 11. I think they continued exerting pressure on Gia through the whole night. Probably they made him change his mind then. The next day the investigator started examination. The videos were switched on. I sensed that something was wrong and demanded the examination without the videos. But Gia refused; probably he already knew what he was expected to say. I required to be left eye to eye with him in order to hold consultation. We were allowed. We talked for ten minutes and Gia said again that he wasn’t going to make any confession. As soon as the interrogation started first he said he didn’t admit guilt, then he said he partially admitted it and at the end he said he basically admitted his guilt. I immediately demanded to enter in the minutes as a remark that the accused pronounced mutually exclusive sentences. I had an impression that Gia repeated the already agreed text, the very one that the investigation wanted.

Q. – But still, what did he say before confession?

E.B. – He said that when still working for ‘Kviris Palitra’ he went to Ergneti to take photos. The Ossetians caught and beat him savagely in Tskhinvali prison. They showed him the photos of his family members and said they would have problems. They made him sign a document but he didn’t remember what it was. To make a long story short, he talked about such foolish things. For instance, he said he was giving the photo material to Kurtsikidze and he in his turn was giving it to FSB or KGB. I required to enter in the minutes that he couldn’t tell FSB from KGB and what’s more he didn’t know that KGB was abolished so what kind of an agent he was. The next absurd he said was that he attended the meetings of the first persons of the State and Ministry of defense, shot photos, listened to their conversation and then sent the shorthand report. According to protocol during high level meetings a photo reporter has to take photos and leave the place. Nobody will speak in his presence.

This way or that way I managed to ask Abdaladze important questions that are still in the minutes. ‘Do you admit that before starting of the interrogation you told me that you were not going to make any confessions’, I asked and he agreed. ‘Do you exclude that you were committing spying crime?’, he said he excluded it. There are entries in the minutes that give him a chance to confirm that he gave evidence under pressure, in case some day he has the power of making such confession.

Q. – But still, do you know what kind of pressure was used on him?

E.B. – I know that he was threatened that they would carry out reprisal to an inmate on the spot. This had great influence on Giorgi.

Q. – Did they threaten him to use pressure on his family members?

E.B. – I don’t really know about it. I can tell you one thing – Giorgi Abdaladze asked me to tell his wife to be on her guard.