By Emil Danielyan
The Armenian ministry of national security will ask the court next week to extend the two-month pre-trial detention of an Armenian man accused of spying for Turkey, his lawyer said on Thursday.
Murad Bojolian, a former foreign ministry official who has made a living from retail trade in recent years, was arrested on January 26 on suspicion of gathering “political, economic and military information” for the Turkish intelligence service, MIT. Bojolian was formally charged with high treason before a Yerevan court allowed the security agency to keep him in jail pending investigation.
The arrest period sanctioned by the court will expire next week. Bojolian’s defense counsel, Ruben Balabanian, told RFE/RL that the investigators have decided to prolong the probe of Armenia’s first espionage case. The court is likely to agree to their request to prolong the arrest for another two months.
Balabanian had predicted earlier that the criminal inquiry will be completed by the end of this month. He on Thursday declined to divulge any details of the case, and it is still unclear whether or not Bojolian will plead guilty to the charge. The lawyer repeated only that his client is a “patriot” who never intended to “cause any damage to Armenia.”
Sources privy to the inquiry claimed last month that the case against Bojolian may be based on his unpublicized cooperation with a Turkish television station. The national security ministry believes that the Turkish-born Armenian citizen worked for the channel “secretly,” providing public and classified information about Armenia, the source told RFE/RL.
A specialist on Turkish affairs, Bojolian is known to have been an occasional news contributor to several Turkish newspapers in the late 1990s. He is said to have once offered to work as a permanent Yerevan-based correspondent for one of them.
Relatives of the accused believe that he is innocent. His wife, Lyudmila Bojolian, said on Thursday that she is totally unaware of the details of the criminal proceedings. She also claimed that she maintains no contacts with Balabanian. “I don’t trust him,” she told RFE/RL without elaborating.
Lyudmila Bojolian was with her husband in a bus bound for Istanbul when he was detained by security officials at a checkpoint on the Georgian border. He occasionally traveled to Turkey to buy goods for his market stall in Yerevan.