Jailed ex-Georgian leader moved to intensive care, supporters say

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TBILISI (Reuters) -Mikheil Saakashvili, the jailed former president of Georgia, is being transferred to an intensive care unit after his health worsened, a family spokesman and political ally told Georgian television on Tuesday - claims rejected by the Tbilisi clinic where the former leader is being treated.

Saakashvili, who led the former Soviet republic as a pro-Western reformer from 2004 to 2013, is serving a six-year sentence for abuse of power, a charge he and his supporters say was politically motivated.

His medical team says his health has deteriorated significantly since he went to prison in October, 2021 where he staged repeated hunger strikes. He is being treated in a Tbilisi clinic, but his lawyers have sought to have his sentence suspended so that he can be transferred abroad.

"Saakashvili's health condition has worsened. He is being transferred right now to the ICU for intensive care," his aide Giorgi Chaladze told reporters on Tuesday.

The head of the Vivamedi clinic where Saakashvili is being treated denied the ex-leader was in a critical condition.

"His vital signs are stable today, as Mr. Saakashvili himself notes ... Today, his bloods are stable and respiratory indicators are too. He is now testing negative for COVID-19. His supporters should be happy," clinic head Zurab Chkhaidze said.

The private Formula TV station reported later on Tuesday that Saakashvili had not been transferred from his room.

Georgian officials - from a rival political party - say Saakasvhili is simulating his illness in an attempt to secure an early release from prison.

(Reporting by David Chkhikvishvili, Felix Light and Jake Cordell; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Ed Osmond)


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