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Armenian Opposition Rallies For Journalist’s Release

Arman Babajanian on trial in 2006

Arman Babajanian on trial in 2006

YEREVAN -- About 50 opposition supporters have rallied in Yerevan to demand the immediate release of jailed newspaper editor Arman Babajanian, who is reportedly suffering serious health problems, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Babajanian, who founded and ran the pro-opposition newspaper "Zhamanak," has been in prison since 2006 for allegedly forging documents to evade military service.

His sentence is set to end in September. Babajanian has had health problems throughout his imprisonment, and his condition has recently worsened. Doctors reportedly found a brain tumor during a medical exam last month that is causing him to lose his sight.

Friends and supporters say he is in urgent need of treatment at a hospital and should be released from prison as soon as possible.

The protesters gathered outside the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) headquarters and marched to a public park in the city center, many of them chanting "Freedom!"

Armenian authorities have refused to release Babajanian unless he asks for an individual pardon from President Serzh Sarkisian.

Babajanian refuses to do that, but has requested parole, according to HAK youth wing leader Karen Karapetian.