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Georgian Detained for Cutting Georgia, Armenia Internet Cable

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April 6 (Bloomberg) -- Georgian authorities detained a scrap-metal hunter for cutting a main Internet cable near Tbilisi, the Interior Ministry said.

The break in the cable left tens of thousands of residents and businesses without Internet access in Georgia and all of Armenia on March 28, the ministry said.

A 75-year-old woman was arrested on evidence given by several witnesses and was “temporarily released due to her old age,” ministry spokesman Zurab Gvenetadze said today in a phone interview in Tblisi. She will be questioned again and may face charges, Gvenetadze said.

The incident cut Armenia’s Internet access for more than 12 hours, Gvenetadze said. An unidentified spokeswoman for Caucasus Online, one of the largest Georgina Internet service providers, said customers lost access to the World Wide Web for almost five hours.

Georgian Railway Telecom LLC spokesman Giorgi Ionatamishvili said the cable belonged to the company and customers suffered “massive and catastrophic” damage. Georgia provides 90 percent of Armenia’s Internet.

“We don’t how she found the optic cable, which was secure,” Ionatamishvili said, adding that severe weather and mudslides may have exposed the cable to copper hunters.

In 2008, Caucasus Online started a $76 million fiber-optic link to Western Europe after a delay caused by the former Soviet republic’s five-day war with Russia in August.

To contact the reporter on this story: Helena Bedwell in Tbilisi at hbedwell@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Gomez in Prague at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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