TIRASPOL -- The trial of jailed journalist Ernest Vardanean in Moldova's breakaway Transdniester region is expected to start soon, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.
Vardanean's wife, Irina, told RFE/RL from Tiraspol today that her husband was formally charged with espionage this week and his case was transferred to a court. According to Transdniestrian law, the court must issue a verdict within six months.
Vardanean, 34, was arrested on April 7 on suspicion of spying for Moldova's secret services. His "confession" was subsequently shown on Transdniester's local television channel.
If found guilty, Vardanean could face up to 20 years in jail.
His family and colleagues say he made the confession under pressure.
Irina Vardanean complained that the Moldovan authorities in Chisinau had not done enough to secure her husband's release.
The Transdniester region, which is dominated by Russian speakers, won de facto independence after a short war in 1992 on fears that the post-Soviet, Romanian-leaning government would seek reunification with Bucharest.
Transdniester's sovereignty has not been recognized by any member of the United Nations and it has no official diplomatic relations with any countries.