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Armenia's Press Club Calls For Jailed Editor To Be Released

Nikol Pashinian turned himself in to the authorities this month
Nikol Pashinian turned himself in to the authorities this month
YEREVAN -- Armenia's National Press Club has issued a statement demanding the release of a jailed opposition newspaper editor, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

"Haykakan Zhamanak" editor Nikol Pashinian, 34, was known for influential speeches at antigovernment rallies held by the opposition after the February 2008 disputed presidential election and for his leadership in the protests that followed the vote.

The statement singled out Pashinian for his role "in establishing the Armenian press in the modern period."

He went into hiding and was sought by authorities for 16 months until he turned himself in on July 1 after a law was passed promising amnesty to activists in the postelection events. But he was denied bail because the legislation only gave amnesty to oppositionists sentenced up to five years in jail.

Pashinian is charged with organizing "mass disturbances" and "unsanctioned rallies" as well as defying "representatives of the state authority."

He could be sentenced to between four and 10 years in jail if found guilty.

The National Press Club's statement held that "the amnesty is a manifestation of goodwill and humanism" under which Pashinian should be freed.