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OSCE Reps Barred From Moldovan Journalist's Trial

Family and friends of Moldovan journalist, Ernest Vardanean, say his confession was forced.

Family and friends of Moldovan journalist, Ernest Vardanean, say his confession was forced.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) mission in Chisinau says its representatives have been denied access to a high-profile trial in the breakaway region of Transdniester, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

On November 3, Moldovan journalist Ernest Vardanean went on trial for espionage in the separatist capital Tiraspol.

Vardanean, 34, was arrested on April 7 in Tiraspol on suspicion of spying for Moldova's secret services. He was charged with high treason, a crime that carries a sentence of 12-20 years in prison in the self-styled Transdniester Republic.

OSCE mission spokeswoman, Rita Naseniece, told RFE/RL that three OSCE representatives had tried to enter the courtroom but were denied access.

Vardanean's wife, Irina, told RFE/RL the courtroom was guarded by armed soldiers, who didn't let anyone enter. Vardanean said she has not been allowed to see her husband for two months.

She added that the first session of the trial lasted three hours and was dominated by testimony from witnesses. She saw several journalists, who have worked with her husband, entering the courtroom. She declined to name them "for fear that publicity might hurt them."

Ernest Vardanean, who before his arrest had been tapped for a job as a Moldovan representative at the United Nations, was shown on Transdniester television while imprisoned confessing to being a Moldovan spy.

His family and friends have said the confession was made under pressure.

On November 4, the family's lawyer, Alexandru Postica, told RFE/RL that he was unable to travel to Tiraspol for "security reasons" and that the separatist authorities don't recognize him as Vardanean's legal representative.

Irina Vardanean said the Tiraspol lawyer, who has been assigned to her husband's case by the court, refused to talk to her after the court session because he said he was "busy."