By Ruzanna Khachatrian and Karine Kalantarian
The authorities in Yerevan were due to question on Wednesday an Armenian national deported from the Philippines on suspicion of plotting to bomb the Turkish embassy there. But they already cast doubt on Khachik Aslanian’s alleged terrorist intentions, saying that the 41-year-old man is a convicted fraudster not affiliated with any militant group.
“I don’t think that he has anything to do with terrorism or maintains any links with international terrorist organizations. But we will definitely investigate the matter and clear things up,” National Security Minister Karlos Petrosian told RFE/RL.
According to the Armenian Foreign Minister, Aslanian was due to arrive in Yerevan on a flight from Moscow late in the evening. “He will be met by representatives of relevant [law-enforcement] structures so that the issue can be clarified,” the ministry spokeswoman, Dziunik Aghajanian, told RFE/RL.
Aslanian was put on an Aeroflot plane and expelled from the Philippines on Tuesday at the urging of the Turkish embassy in Manila. "Turkish authorities suspected that Aslanian came to Manila to plot the bombing of the Turkish Embassy here," a local immigration official said in a statement.
“The Philippine authorities did not relay that information to us through diplomatic channels,” Aghajanian said. “The matter was resolved through the Interpol. Its office in Armenia dealt with it.”
Armenia has no diplomatic mission in the Philippine capital. Aslanian was first arrested in Manila on November 21 but escaped from immigration custody two days later. He was recaptured on December 2.
According to the Interpol, Aslanian had spent some time in prison in Canada after being caught carrying a hand grenade while traveling aboard a Korean Airlines flight in November 1997.
Petrosian revealed that Aslanian had also been prosecuted in Armenia for fraud two years ago. The minister said he does not remember details of the case and knows only that the deported Armenian “has long been engaged in fraudulent activities” in both Armenia and abroad.
The Turkish embassy in Manila alleged that Aslanian is a member of a “separatist group” called the Armenian National Liberation Front. No such organization is known to exist in Armenia and its worldwide Diaspora.
“We have the impression that he has been acting as a private individual solely concerned with his own self-interest,” the Foreign Ministry’s Aghajanian said. She described his expulsion as “a step taken on the basis of suspicions that have not been substantiated with evidence.”