Georgian diplomat sentenced to 20 years on charges of espionage

Vakhtang Maysaia, a former employee of Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was found guilty of espionage by the Georgian city court on Friday. Maysaia now faces a 20-year prison sentence.

Maysaia, who was arrested in May 2009, was charged with transmitting classified data to foreign intelligence services during the time that he was employed at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The announcement of court’s decision came on Friday, despite Maysaya’s denial of his involvement. Natiya Korkotatze, Maysaia’s defense attorney, has said they plan to appeal the ruling.

Maysaya’s arrest is a political case,” Korkotatze stated. “In fact, he was effectively found guilty at the moment of his arrest. For one month we have a right to appeal, and we’ll use that right. We will appeal to the Supreme Court and to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.”

Maysaia used to work in the NATO bureau of Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and after leaving it he became a professor of political science in one of Tbilisi’s universities.

Part of his job was to comment on Georgian politics, which is exactly what he did in May 2009, when asked to comment on an alleged military mutiny at a base in Mukhrovani village.

Maysaia said he has no doubts that the whole mutiny is just another show staged by the Georgian authorities.

Just hours after that comment he was arrested during a lecture, in front of his students and colleagues, and charged of spying for Russia by transferring top secret information on the dislocation of Georgian Troops.

He also allegedly received a sum of $800 as a payment for this activity.

Immediately following his arrest he made a taped statement that he was guilty, which he later retracted and maintained an innocence plea till his final statement during the trial.

He also was offered several deals in exchange for pleading guilty, but refused them all.