RSF condemns police search of Armenian news website

RSF condemns police search of Armenian news website

PanARMENIAN.Net - Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the search by police of the headquarters of the Yerevan-based Armenian news website Yerevan.Today on Monday, September 17. It violated the confidentiality of journalists’ sources, RSF said.

The police removed some of Yerevan.Today’s computer equipment during the search, which lasted seven hours and temporarily stopped the site from operating. They also searched the home of its editor, Sevak Hakobyan.

The authorities insisted that the searches had “nothing to do with the journalistic activities” of Yerevan.Today and were carried out as part of an investigation into the origin of a secretly-recorded phone conversation between two top security officials, which the Armenian media published last week.

In the recording, National Security Service chief Artur Vanetsyan and Special Investigative Service chief Sasun Khachatryan were heard discussing the prosecution of former President Robert Kocharyan and a former defence minister in connection with the bloody crackdown on protests in 2008.

The recording suggested that they had sought and obtained the current Prime Minister’s approval before arresting the former officials. Vanetsyan and Khachatryan recognized the recording’s authenticity but said their comments have been misinterpreted.

“The search of Yerevan.Today’s premises and the seizure of its equipment constitute grave violations of the principle of the protection of journalists’ sources, which is guaranteed by Armenian legislation and the European Court of Human Rights,” said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “We regret that the police did not seek a less intrusive and more proportionate way to achieve their legitimate goal.”

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