Tensions increase with Armenia
Wednesday, December 18 2002 @ 08:36 PM MSK
|Armenia sentences journalist to 10 years for spying for Turkey. Armenian, Greek, Greek Cypriot and Kurdish lobbies in the US ask Bush to change his Turkish policies radically |
Armenia sentenced Armenian journalist Murat Bodzholian to 10 years prison.
According to Russian news agency Interfax, Bodzholian was sentenced due to alleged contact with the Turkish secret service since 1998 -- the date he started working for the Turkish Anatolia News Agency as a reporter.
Bodzholian is accused of informing the Turkish secret service about Armenia's bilateral relations with Georgia, Iran and Russia. He is also accused of visiting Turkey frequently to meet the secret service.
It is stated that Bodzholian was formerly trained by the Armenian Defense Ministry and Armenian intelligence. Bodzholian was the adviser of first Armenian president Levon Ter Petrosyan.
Bodzholian's advocate Ovik Arsenyan stated that the court made its decision under political pressure and that the sentence is against freedom of expression.
"The only crime of Bocalyan is to report for an enemy country," Arsenyan said and indicated that they would appeal the decision.
Bodzholian last month stated that he accepted some of the accusations under duress of fear of torture and threats from ultra nationalists to harm his family. He insisted on his innocence. He denied having contacts with Turkish special services, saying that he had worked with Turks only in his capacity as a journalist and had used only open sources.
News are considered as evidence
Anatolia News Agency indicated that Bodzholian's news reports were considered evidence of spying. Bodzholian's advocate applied to the court insisting that news published at newspapers cannot be used as evidence but the court rejected this.
The Turks recruited Bodzholian four years ago, Armenian prosecutors said. They were interested in obtaining information on the deployment of forces and military equipment in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian-majority region that seceded from Azerbaijan in 1989, sparking a six-year war that killed some 30,000 people and forced a million to flee their homes. They were also interested in Russian military activity in Armenia, Moscow's closest ally in the Caucasus Mountains region, prosecutors said.
Bodzholian also stands accused of informing on terrorist organization PKK's activities and providing Turkey with secret PKK documents. These accusations, however, are considered by some as Armenia's official admittance that it cooperates with the PKK.
Lobbies pressure Bush to change Turkish policy
Greek, Greek Cypriot, Kurdish and Armenian lobbies in the U.S. wrote a letter to President George Bush to asking him to discontinue his support for Turkey.
The head of Armenian National Committee in America (ANCA), Aram Hamparian, head of American-Hellenic Education Progress Association (AHEPA) James Dimitriu, Greek-American National Committee President Ted Spiropulos, head of Greek-American Women's Council Theodora Han*censored*, Greek-American Institute Chairman Gene Rossides and the Chairman of American Kurdish Information Network (AKIN) Kani Gulam, sent the letter.
The letter asked Bush "to revise the U.S.'s Turkey policies in the national interests of U.S." The letter also stated that Turkey abuses human rights and that the U.S. avoids such abuses.
The letter called Turkey an "international terrorist country" and that Turkey, "invaded Cyprus, committing ethnic cleansing and genocide."
The letter argued that the U.S. does not need Turkey to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and that British bases in Cyprus or other bases in Basra can replace the Adana Incirlik base.
U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, former defense secretary Richard Perle and Deputy State Secretary Marc Grossman are marked as responsible for the U.S. policy towards Turkey.
The letter asked the U.S. government to stop funds of $228 million destined for Turkey for the expenses of the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
The letter also asked the U.S. to apply pressure on Turkey to withdraw troops from Cyprus, return Turkish citizens in Cyprus to Turkey, for Turkey to enlarge the practice of human rights, to recognize so called Armenian genocide, and to repair the churches destroyed by Turks.