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Transdniester Extends Journalist's Arrest By 30 Days

Ernest Vardanean on Tiraspol TV on May 11

Ernest Vardanean on Tiraspol TV on May 11

TIRASPOL, Moldova -- A court in Moldova's separatist Transdniester region today extended by a further 30 days the pretrial detention of independent journalist Ernest Vardanean, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

Vardanean, 33, is a freelancer for the local news agency Novy Region 2.

He was detained on April 7 at his home in Tiraspol, the capital of the unrecognized Transdniester region. He is accused of spying for Moldova, and could be sentenced to between 12 and 20 years in prison if found guilty.

The Moldovan government, the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau, the European Union, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have all urged the Transdniestrian authorities to release Vardanean from detention and ensure he receives a fair trial.

Numerous human rights and journalists' associations, including Reporters Without Borders, have also condemned his arrest.

On May 12, Vardanean was shown on Transdniester's official TV channel confessing to espionage, but his family and friends say they believe the confession was made under pressure.