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Moldovan Spy Suspects Await Trial In Transdniester

Ilie Cazac's parents in front of the Russian Embassy in Chisinau last month.
Ilie Cazac's parents in front of the Russian Embassy in Chisinau last month.
CHISINAU -- A man arrested in Moldova's breakaway Transdniester region on espionage charges four months ago has been remanded in pretrial detention for two more months, his parents told RFE/RL's Moldovan Service.

Ilie Cazac, 24, was detained in the town of Bender on March 19 and accused of high treason and spying for the Moldovan authorities. If found guilty he could face a prison term of between 12 and 20 years.

His detention was extended to September 20.

Last month, Cazac wrote a letter to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mission in Chisinau in which he admitted to the charges against him.

Family and friends say that the confession was made under pressure.

Cazac's parents have been protesting for several weeks outside the Russian Embassy in Chisinau. They believe only Moscow has sufficient influence over Transdniester's leadership to secure their son's release.

The Russian ambassador has expressed regret over Cazac's situation but has said the Transdniestrian authorities act as a de facto state and make their own legal decisions.

Meanwhile, Ernest Vardanean, an independent journalist arrested in Tiraspol in April and accused of spying for Moldova, is likewise awaiting trial. He was later shown on state television confessing to espionage.

His wife and colleagues say he was forced to make the confession.

The Moldovan government, the United States, and the EU have expressed concern in both cases that the defendants' rights appear to have been violated.

Additionally, relatives say the two men have not been allowed to hire lawyers of their choice or to meet their families on a regular basis.