By Emil DanielyanArmenian prosecutors on Thursday officially publicized Murad Bojolian’s pre-trial testimony in which the jailed former government official admitted to the accusations of spying for Turkey. The written confession, which Bojolian claims to have fabricated, is a very detailed account of his alleged contacts with the Turkish intelligence service MIT.
Shortly after his arrest last January, Bojolian told investigators from the National Security Ministry that he agreed to work for MIT during a trip to Istanbul in June 2000, “desperate” to repay his debts and support his unemployed family. He testified that MIT sought detailed information about Armenia’s political system, armed forces and foreign affairs.
The testimony is at the heart of the espionage case brought by the law-enforcement authorities and currently considered by a Yerevan court of first instance. The defendant, who retracted the testimony in July, maintains that he confessed to the high treason charges because he feared for his and his family’s security. He has repeatedly pleaded not guilty since the start of the trial last month.
In his initial testimony, Bojolian had said that he provided two MIT agents, identified as Tolunay and Musret, with information about Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh during six different trips to Istanbul between 2000 and 2001. He said the data was mainly taken from Armenian newspaper reports and mainly concerned Armenia’s political and socioeconomic situation, armed forces, military cooperation with Russia and Greece as well as activities of the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party.
Bojolian had testified that the Turks were complaining that his information comes from “open sources” and were demanding more sensitive facts about the state of affairs in Armenia. He claimed that at one point he had to fabricate some details of the country’s economic and military infrastructure in order to boost his significance in MIT’s eyes.
His lawyer, Hovannes Arsenian, said that the confession is full of contradictions showing that it can not be accepted as hard evidence. Arsenian argued in particular that if his client had indeed been paid a total of $9,000 by the MIT agents, as he had originally stated, he would have repaid all of his debts.
Bojolian, who became mired in debts after buying a new Yerevan apartment in 1998, stilled owed $4,000 to one of his Armenian creditors as of September 2001.
Cross-examined in the court last week, Bojolian insisted that Musret and Tolunay were in fact clients of his Istanbul-based cousin Murad Isler and that he was never recruited by them.
While in Istanbul, he also met with another Turk named Gurol. According to Armenian National Security Ministry officials, this is the codename of Aytac Urkan, the Turkish military attaché and the alleged MIT station chief in Moscow. But Bojolian, who was shown Urkan’s photograph during the pre-trial investigation, told the court the Gurol he knows is a different person.
In his pre-trial testimony, the espionage suspect said that Gurol had been introduced to him as the “boss” of the two alleged MIT agents and had encouraged him to continue to collaborate with Turkish special services. The Turks, Bojolian said, had made it clear that he will not get “serious sums of money” without gaining access to Armenian state secrets.
Bojolian also told his interrogators last January and February that he has never transferred any classified information to MIT that could damage Armenia.