By Armen Zakarian
An Armenian delegation headed by Armenia's envoy to Egypt, Sergei Manaserian, has met with the authorities in Equatorial Guinea in an effort to help six Armenian citizens detained in that West African country, a senior Armenian diplomat told RFE/RL.
"The Armenian pilots have been under arrest since March," Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamlet Gasparian told RFE/RL on 13 July. "This is our second delegation. The first delegation has already met with the authorities of Equatorial Guinea -- the Ministry of Justice, Prosecutor's office, and Foreign Ministry."Gasparian added that as a result of the meetings the Armenian pilots were allowed to have phone conversations with their families.
The six Armenian pilots arrested earlier this year continue to deny any involvement in an alleged plot to overthrow the president of Equatorial Guinea. The Armenian nationals are among 15 detained foreigners accused by the leadership of the former Spanish colony of hatching a conspiracy against President Teodoro Obiang Nguema. Nguema's regime claims that they were an advance party of a larger group of "mercenaries" arrested in Zimbabwe earlier in March.
Official Yerevan challenges the credibility of the charges brought against the Armenians, saying that they are civilian pilots who worked in the region on a private contract.