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Jailed Transdniester Journalist's Wife Skeptical About Amnesty

Irina and Ernest Vardanean in an undated photo
Irina and Ernest Vardanean in an undated photo
TIRASPOL, Moldova -- The wife of jailed independent journalist Ernest Vardanean says she doubts he will be given clemency by authorities in Moldova's breakaway Transdniester region because of the serious charges against him, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

Vardanean has been charged with high treason and is currently in pretrial detention in Tiraspol, the capital of Transdniester.

Vardanean's wife, Irina, told RFE/RL on July 14 that her husband, whom she visits twice a month, looks "very upset, scared, and demoralized."

Ernest Vardanean, 33, was arrested in Tiraspol in April and accused of spying for the Moldovan government. He was later shown on state television confessing to espionage. His wife and colleagues say he was forced to make the confession.

Irina Vardanean also said her husband is not able to hire a lawyer of his choice. "The lawyer appointed by the Tiraspol authorities lacks the will and proper means to defend Ernest," she said.

The Transdniester government recently announced its intention to proclaim a sweeping amnesty on September 2 to mark "the 20th anniversary of Transdniester's independence from Moldova."

The names of the prisoners eligible for release have not been made public.

Transdniester announced its secession from the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic in September 1990. The region has enjoyed de facto independence since a brief war with Moldovan troops in 1992, although no country has formally recognized it.