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Cancer-Stricken Armenian Editor Remains Imprisoned

Arman Babajanian on trial in 2006
Arman Babajanian on trial in 2006
Armenian prison officials have joined international human rights groups in calling for the release of opposition newspaper editor Arman Babajanian, who was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Babajanian, whose jail sentence is due to end on September 16, was diagnosed by a prison doctor last month.

Friends and supporters say he is in urgent need of treatment at a civilian hospital as the tumor is impairing his vision.

The Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said the young editor could be left "handicapped for life," and a top representative of Human Rights Watch sent an open letter to Justice Minister Gevorg Danielian on July 29 urging that Armenian government to provide Babajanian with "the highest possible standard of treatment."

On July 31, the prison hospital requested that a state commission examine the case and consider Babajanian's early release.

But a spokesman for the state Human Rights Office told RFE/RL on August 3 that they "have no information yet about any extraordinary meetings of the commission."

Babajanian, who founded and ran the opposition newspaper "Zhamanak," has been in prison since 2006 after being found guilty of forging documents to evade military service. Rights groups and supporters say the charges were trumped up.