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Journalist confesses to espionage amid fears he was coerced

(CJES/IFEX) - Journalist Ernest Vardanyan, who was arrested by the Transdniestrian State Security Ministry on April 7, 2010, confessed to spying for Moldova on Transdniestrian state television on May 11.

Vardanyan said he was recruited by Nikolai Botezau, an official with the Moldovan Information and Security Service, in May 2010 when he was a fourth year student at a Chisinau university.

Vardanyan said he had signed a paper stating that he agreed to work for the Information and Security Service after graduation and collected information on the republic's domestic policy while working as a journalist in Transdniestria.

Vardanyan said he was selected for a position in the UN Secretariat in 2009.

"I was hoping to end my work for the Information and Security Service. However, when I told Nikolai Bortezau about that, he said I was not going to be able to end my cooperation with them and would have to continue working against other countries, including against the Russian Federation, upon arriving in New York. I was not going to work against anyone in the UN, let alone the Russian Federation. I realized then that the situation was getting serious.

"I started thinking of possible ways to get out of that situation, but unfortunately I was detained.

"The State Security Ministry exposed me and now I realize that was largely due to the fact that the Information and Security Service did not pay due attention to security issues. I was simply pushed into a mine field. I was left to my own devices," Vardanyan said.

Vardanyan's lawyer said his client has been forced to confess to something he did not do (he believes the journalist was forced to make the confession in exchange for a meeting with his wife Irina).

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