Former Special Service Officers Involved in Major Espionage Scandal

MOSCOW (BBC)–A large-scale espionage scandal is looming in Yerevan. Many senior officials of the Armenian special services might become involved in a big court case. The case is very complex.–reported the Moscow-based NTV program.

Col. Khachatryan was the head of the Karabakh special service for a number of years–and Lt.-Col. Abramyan worked for a long time in the Soviet consulate in Iran. They are accused of armed assault and extortion.

The prosecution says that two years ago in Yerevan they kidnapped an Iranian entrepreneur for ransom. The very first hearings have revealed that the criminal case might turn into a big espionage scandal. The materials revealed by the court in fact testified to the fact that Lt.-Col. Abramyan had been a member of the Soviet–and later of the Armenian–intelligence service in Iran.

"All countries do that. But nowhere are agents exposed in such an open way. The question is why does Armenia do it this way?" said Abramyan’s attorney–Marina Galabyan.

From the very beginning the officers have declared that the case against them was faked–that they are not guilty and that they are just the victims of an act of provocation by the leadership of the Interior and National Security Ministry.

The lawyers say that the case is a kind of revenge that bosses take on disobedient subordinates.

"The purpose is to send [them] to prison at any cost–by any means–even if it undermines our state’s authority," commented Khachatryan’s lawyer Tigran Janoyan.

At the same time the accused are not going to talk openly about the underlying cause. They demand a closed hearing. It looks like the intelligence officers’ case may be the biggest of the year.

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