Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) insisted in court on Wednesday that it has “reasonable” suspicions that a Paris-based Armenian Diaspora activist is a threat to the country’s security.
Schanth Vosgueritchian, a French Armenian known for his criticism of Armenia’s political leadership, was barred from entering Armenia and deported back to France in May last year shortly after arriving at Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport on a flight from Paris.
The activist who heads the French chapter of a Diaspora group called Armenian Renaissance said that immigration officers of the NSS refused to give any clear reasons for his detention and ensuing deportation.
Vosgueritchian, who has repeatedly organized anti-government demonstrations outside the Armenian Embassy in Paris, condemning vote riggings in Armenian elections and arrests of anti-government activists, last month appealed to the newly appointed head of the NSS, Georgi Kutoyan, challenging him in an open letter to “prove that there is still justice in Armenia.”
Meanwhile, his legal representatives in Armenia, Artur Sakunts and Ani Chatinian, appealed the effective travel ban imposed on the activist by the NSS, describing it as unlawful.
“The reasons and grounds for adding [Vosgueritchian] to the list of personae non grata as the person does not know what to do in order to eliminate these grounds so that his name can be removed from the list of foreigners whose entry to the country is banned,” said Chatinian.
The human rights activists said that during the past months the NSS has not provided explanations regarding the reasons of the ban and the period of its application.
NSS representative Tatul Ghukasian today invoked a number of laws, stating that the contents of the decision are a secret even for Vosgueritchian himself.
He said that the results of “operative-investigative measures” that served as the ground for the ban could not be provided to either the plaintiff or his representatives. “This is the position of the NSS,” Ghukasian said.
Opposition lawmaker Zaruhi Postanjian said after the court hearing that the Armenian authorities have violated the European documents that they have ratified themselves.
“It is obvious that this is just a kind of political persecution, as they use procedures that existed during the Soviet times and do not comply with international obligations,” she said.