Law-enforcement authorities in Armenia pledged on Tuesday to step up their investigation into death threats that have been made against the editor of an independent media outlet.
The Office of the Prosecutor-General said that it has formally opened a criminal case in connection with the threats which Marianna Grigorian received on Facebook after her MediaLab.am online publication posted on January 28 a cartoon that mocked Defense Minister Vigen Sargsian.
The office said it instructed another law-enforcement agency, the Investigative Committee, to conduct a “full, objective and comprehensive” inquiry under a relevant article of the Armenian Criminal Code.
A preliminary probe was earlier assigned to an Armenian police unit tasked with combatting organized crime after Grigorian lodged a complaint with the prosecutors. The well-known editor was questioned by the police on Friday.
A Facebook user threatened Grigorian in response to the cartoon. The individual identifying themselves as “Hayk Berman Ohanyan” warned the MediaLab staff to avoid the fate of the French satirical weekly “Charlie Hebdo” that was attacked by Islamist gunmen in January 2015. The terrorist attack left 12 people dead and 11 others wounded.
According to Grigorian, “Ohanyan” made more such threats in private messages sent to her in the following days.
The U.S. Embassy in Armenia voiced concern at the threats on Sunday, saying that they are “an anathema to a free press that is vital to democracy.”
The Vienna-based representative on freedom of the media of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Harlem Desir, echoed those concerns Tuesday when he posted an RFE/RL story on the subject on his Twitter page.
“Any threat against journalists, including online, is a threat to democracy,” warned Desir. “Hope the investigation will be swift and the perpetrator can be brought to justice.”