Media Association Appeals for Armenian Journalist Release

YEREVAN–The All Armenian Media Association condemned on Wednesday the imprisonment of an journalist of Armenian origin living in the unrecognized Republic of Transdniester.

Ernest Vardanyan was arrested on April 7near his home in Tiraspol by the Transdnestrian state secrete services. He is accused of spying for Moldova and high treason.

“The All Armenian Media Association condemns the imprisonment of the Armenian journalist and calls on the law-enforcement bodies of the Republic of Armenia to take advantage of their opportunities to extenuate the pressures against Ernest Vardanyan,” the Armenian media group said in a statement. “The association also calls on Armenia’s Chamber of Advocates to take measures in order to show necessary legal support to the Armenian journalist.”

Vardanyan confessed his guilt in a televised video address. But activists advocating for his release say the confession was forced and beaten out of him.

In the video, the journalist said he was recruited by the Moldavian Security and Information Service (SIS) while he was studying at Chisinau State University in 2001. He said that SIS officials had insinuated that he and his wife would face problems with their continued studies in Moldova if he refused.

Vardanyan, who faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on treason charges, said he was not a traitor, but a victim of circumstances.

Transdnestrian State Security Minister Vladimir Antifeev has said Vardanyan “has realized his current condition and has agreed to cooperate with the investigation”.

Vardanyan’s family has sent letters to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin asking for an intervention by the Russian government.

On May 11 a group of Armenian bloggers organized a demonstration at the Russian embassy in Armenia and delivered a letter to the ambassador asking for intervention. A similar letter was delivered to the UN office in Yerevan.


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