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Armenian Newspaper Claims Pressure From Investigators


Knar Manukian, editor-in-chief of the Zhoghovurd daily.18 March, 2019

The chief editor of an Armenian daily newspaper claims the Special Investigation Service (SIS) is putting pressure on the media outlet after criminal proceedings have been launched over its publication of some data that the law-enforcement body says is confidential.

The newspaper, Zhoghovurd, on March 16 published on its front page excerpts from the testimony of former president Serzh Sarkisian regarding the 2008 deadly post-election crackdown.Earlier, the newspaper published excerpts from interrogations of Constitutional Court member Felix Tokhian and former deputy defense minister Gagik Melkonian on the same case.

After that, the SIS warned the newspaper that disclosure of data containing secrets of the preliminary investigation could lead to criminal liability.

“This is obvious pressure on media. This warning is a threat aimed at forcing you to refrain from further activities,” said Zhoghovurd’s chief editor Knar Manukian.

She insisted that the newspaper got hold of the materials still before the end of the preliminary investigations in regards to the cases against ex-president Robert Kocharian, ex-defense minister Seyran Ohanian, ex-deputy defense minister Yuri Khachaturov and ex-deputy prime minister and secretary of the Security Council Armen Gevorkian, but withheld their publication until the completion of the probe.

Manukian said that Zhoghovurd will continue to publish pieces of testimony in connection with the “March 1, 2008” case, and even a court’s decision to disclose the source will not deter them. “They will not achieve any result. I assure you that no matter what the court’s decision is, I will go till the end. The SIS today seeks to identify the source by putting pressure on the media, but they will not achieve the result,” said Manukian, adding that, if necessary, her paper will publish also other pieces of testimony that it currently has.

The SIS, meanwhile, says that the stage of preliminary investigation is not over yet as it ends with the indictment and until that the parties to the investigation are not allowed to publish confidential information related to the case, including by passing it to the media, which entails criminal liability.

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