Acting Moldovan President Mihai Ghimpu has condemned the arrest of an independent journalist in the country's breakaway Transdniester region and promised to seek international support for his release, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.
Ernest Vardanean, a 33-year-old stringer for the Transdniester news agency Novy Region 2, was arrested on April 7 at his home in Tiraspol, the capital of the self-styled republic.
Moldovan and Russian media say he is accused of spying for Moldova and could receive a 20-year prison term if found guilty.
Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Victor Osipov, the government's point man for the Transdniester conflict, told RFE/RL that Vardanean's arrest shows the separatists' unwillingness to talk to civil-society representatives or tolerate freedom of speech.
Before his departure today for Brussels and Washington, Osipov said that he will try to mobilize international support to secure Vardanean's release.