Espionage Suspect Still Kept in Jail

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Murad Bojolian–a former Armenian government official arrested last January on charges of spying for Turkey–will stay in jail at least until the end of July–and it is not clear when the highly confidential inquiry into the case will end–his attorney said on Friday.

The lawyer–Hovannes Arsenian–told RFE/RL that a court in Yerevan accepted last week investigators’ request to prolong Bojolian’s pre-trial detention by two more months. Arsenian said he hopes there will be no more arrest extensions.

The investigators from the ministry of national security have so far refused to give any details of their case against Bojolian who was arrested at an Armenian checkpoint on the Georgian border while he traveled to Turkey by bus. The ministry said in a brief statement at the time that the former head of the Turkey desk at the Armenian foreign ministry had gathered "political–economic and military information" for Turkish intelligence.

It is still not known whether or not Bojolian–who had lived a modest life since leaving the foreign ministry in 1997–has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Arsenian refused to outline his client’s defense strategy and reveal what the accusations stem from.

A source informed about the inquiry told RFE/RL earlier this year that the case against Bojolian may be based on his unpublicized cooperation with a Turkish television station. The national security ministry refused to comment on the claim.

A specialist on Turkish affairs–Bojolian is known to have been an occasional news contributor to several Turkish newspapers in the late 1990s. He is said to have once offered to work as a permanent Yerevan-based correspondent for one of them.

Bojolian’s wife and other relatives insist that he is innocent. Lyudmila Bojolian said on Friday that national security officials do not allow her to visit her jailed husband.

But Arsenian–who took over the case in March after the suspect’s previous lawyer was accused by Lyudmila Bojolian of maintaining secret ties with the national security ministry–said he is satisfied with the former KGB’s handling of the probe. He said he did not object to the arrest extension in order to allow them "to find out the truth."

Arsenian also did not rule out the possibility that the charges against Bojolian will eventually be dropped for lack of evidence. "I am inclined to think that this case will not necessarily end up in the court. Criminal cases do not always lead to trials," he said without elaborating.


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