Spy’s Lawyer Accused of ‘Working for Special Services’

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The wife of Murad Bojolian–an Armenian man prosecuted on charges of spying for Turkey–has accused his defense attorney of maintaining secret ties with investigators from the ministry of national security–the former Soviet-era KGB.

The lawyer–Ruben Balabanian–on Monday shrugged off the allegations as a "lie," saying that they were the main reason why he stopped representing the suspect’s interests. He said he took the decision on March 22–on the day a Yerevan court prolonged Bojolian’s pre-trial arrest for another two months.

"Balabanian was working for special services. He wasn’t working for us," the wife of the accused–Lyudmila Bojolian–told RFE/RL. "I still don’t know what Murad stands accused of."

She also claimed that the national security ministry is thwarting her attempts to find a new attorney for her husband and refusing to state how long the inquiry will last. The ministry continued Monday to decline any comment on the espionage case.

Balabanian–meanwhile–said his efforts to prove that his client is not guilty of high treason were hampered by Lyudmila Bojolian’s "interference." He said he was under constant pressure to secure her husband’s "immediate release."

"She doesn’t understand how a lawyer should work," Balabanian told RFE/RL. "I told Mr. Bojolian that she is impeding my work and what she wants is beyond my powers."

Asked about his alleged ties with the ex-KGB–the lawyer said: "This is a lie. Having good relations with someone does not mean being linked to them. I have defended only the interests of my client."

Bojolian–who held a senior post in the Armenian foreign ministry in the early 1990s–was arrested on January 26 during what appeared to be a regular commercial trip to Turkey. He was charged with collecting secret "political–economic and military information" for the Turkish intelligence service–MIT.

It is still not known whether Bojolian–a father of three–has pleaded guilty to the charge. His attorney has always avoided an explicit answer to the question–saying only that Bojolian is a "patriot" and never aimed to harm his country.

His wife alleged that the investigators and Balabanian have conspired to withhold important information from her. "I know nothing about the case. The investigators have only told me not to make noise," she said–adding that she was not even informed about the March 22 arrest extension. She said that her last meeting with her husband took place one month ago and that he she has not been allowed to see him since then.

According to Balabanian–Bojolian has decided not to hire a new defense counsel. "He won’t be able to defend himself single-handedly," he said.

Lyudmila Bojolian revealed that her husband has already turned down services of two lawyers suggested by her. She claimed that he made the decision under pressure from the investigators.

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