Oksana Sevastidi was sentenced by Judge Vladimir Kobzev
. In November 2014, he sentenced Ekaterina Kharebava, a citizen of Georgia, for six years of prison for espionage. Her case is similar
to Sevastidi's one: she, too, sent a SMS to a Georgian acquaintance in April 2008, and several years after, she was arrested and a defending attorney assigned by the state advised her to admit her guilt.
"First, local FSB officers in Sochi visited her and asked whom she had contacted, phoned, or sent SMS. She gave it to them straight and signed everything since she did not see any hidden catch. And they appeared to be collecting materials in order to initiate criminal case", says Leonid Yerchenko, a legal attorney invited by Kharebava's family instead of the one assigned by the state. Citing Kharebava herself, he explains: "Having learnt how she had given evidence, I asked her: you did confess that you knew [that you had committed an act of high treason].And she exclaimed: what? I have never said that. I have never had anything of that kind in my thoughts, I could not so that". Ekaterina herself told the same to the Team 29 journalists. When her attorney showed her printed SMS messages allegedly sent by her, she could not believe that she was whenever able to have written them: "I cannot write in that manner, and I would not count the number of machines," her attorney cites her.
Kharebava was sentenced for high treason in a form of espionage, i.e. for collection and transfer of secret information though there had been no information of that kind in her case. "In April [when Kharebava wrote her SMS] all military equipment was mowing openly, without any camouflage," Yerchenko says. "Moreover. documents accompanying that train had no secrecy stamps. When we questioned the commander in court, he told that the operation, the military traffic, had been not secret. All documents withdrawn by the investigator have no secrecy stamp; those were common technical documents".
Kharebava was sentenced to six years in a penal colony though according to the Criminal Code of Russia, minimal punishment term for espionage is 12 years. In 2016, she was released within the Russian-Georgian agreement on mutual release of citizens, and went to Tbilisi. Her release was rather unexpected: her elder daughter and defending attorney applied to Georgian authorities and made them to pay attention to Ekaterina's fate. She says that two more Georgian citizens convicted for espionage were released at the same time.
Some years before, Georgian authorities released four Russians imprisoned for espionage in Georgia. Zurab Abashidze (who then was Special Representative of the Georgian Prime Minister for settlement of relations with the Russian Federation) stated
: "Showing our good will, we released four Russian citizens without any pre-conditions. After a little while, Russia answered in the same way, also showing good will".