Four photojournalists, including the Georgian president's personal photographer and his wife, have been detained on spying charges, the Georgian Interior Ministry said on Thursday.
Presidential administration press service photographer Irakli Gedenidze, his wife and two other photojournalists working for the European Pressphoto Agency and the Georgian Foreign Ministry, were arrested on Wednesday night. Their cases were classified.
The detainees may face from eight to 12 years in prison if found guilty.
"The detainees were accused of providing information, harmful to the interests of Georgia, to an organization operating under the patronage of a foreign state's intelligence service" the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
One of the detainees, Giorgi Abdaladze, went on a hunger strike to protest against his detention, his lawyer said.
"Abdaladze decided to resort to a hunger strike as the ultimate form of protest. He is shocked by his detention and has no idea of why it happened,” the lawyer said.
Another Georgian reporter, an Associated Press photographer, was detained on Thursday morning but was released by noon. He said he was questioned as a witness in the case.
The country's union of journalists, Charter of Journalistic Ethics of Georgia, urged the country's ombudsman and international organizations to take up the case, as well as a more detailed explanation of the arrests from the Interior Ministry.
In a separate case, Georgia on Wednesday jailed nine people, including four Russians, on charges of spying for Moscow.