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Tbilisi Court Starts Hearing Russia Espionage Case

Vakhtang Maisaia

Vakhtang Maisaia

TBILISI -- A court in Tbilisi has begun hearing the case of Vakhtang Maisaia, who is accused of spying for Russia, RFE/RL's Russian and Georgian services report.

Maisaia, a political observer and military specialist, was arrested in May. He is accused of providing Russian secret services with classified information during the Russia-Georgia conflict over Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in August 2008.

Maisaia's confessions were televised in Georgia, and President Mikheil Saakashvili personally accused Maisaia of treason.

However, Maisaia later said he made the confession under duress.

His lawyer has officially refused to defend him in court, to protest a demand by investigators that the trial be held behind closed doors.

Maisaia faces 20 years to life in jail if convicted.