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Police Raid Vardanean's Apartment


Armenia -- Supporters of jailed journalist Ernest Vardanean protest in front of the Russian Embassy, Yerevan, 11May2010

Armenia -- Supporters of jailed journalist Ernest Vardanean protest in front of the Russian Embassy, Yerevan, 11May2010

The wife of jailed Moldovan journalist Ernest Vardanean says their apartment
was raided by security officers late last week, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service
reports.

Irina Vardanean, the wife of jailed journalist Ernest Vardanean, told RFE/RL that three officers searched the apartment in Tiraspol on
Thursday, September 9 and tried to confiscate the hard disk of the family's
computer, but she stopped them.

"I fought back against them," she said. "Having a little baby I work from home
and they were trying to deprive me of my last means to earn a living."

Ernest Vardanean, 34, was arrested in his hometown of Tiraspol on April 7 and
has been charged with working for the Moldovan secret service in Chisinau.

He was later shown on Transdniestrian state television confessing to being a
spy. But his family and friends believe he was forced to confess under pressure.

Irina Vardanean suspects prosecutors need the family's computer to try to
fabricate evidence against her husband.

"They have confiscated my husband's computer already, but found nothing," she
said. "I repaired our old one to be able to work and there is nothing to be
found on it."

The latest incident took place the same day Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat
spoke by phone with Transdniester separatist leader Igor Smirnov about Ernest
Vardanean's case and that of another man arrested in Tiraspol on similar
charges.

Filat told journalists that he did not receive any promises, but Moldovan
authorities will continue to pressure Transdniestrian officials to give
Vardanean a fair trial.

If found guilty, Vardanean could face a sentence of up to twenty years.

Irina Vardanean told RFE/RL she has become more desperate since it has now been
more than six months since her husband's arrest.

"All doors are closed in Tiraspol and we don't know what lies ahead for us in
the future," she said. "Nothing tangible has been done by Moldova either while
Russia says it's none of its business."

Officials from Moldova, the United States, the European Union, and several
human rights organizations have repeatedly asked separatist officials to grant
Vardanean a fair trial and decent conditions in detention.

Compiled and reported by RFE/RL's Moldova service and O wire.
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