Sevak Hakobyan, editor of the news website Yerevan.Today, issued a statement today describing yesterday’s raid of his office by the National Security Service (NSS) as an attempt to silence the website.
“It intended to teach a lesson to news outlets raising free and substantiated critical speech,” Hakobyan said.
Yesterday’s raid lasted for several hours, Hakobyan said, preventing website employees from working for most of the day.
After the raid, Hakobyan told reporters that the reason for the police search was because the website was the first to publish a secretly taped telephone conversation between National Security Service Chief Artur Vanetsyan and Special Investigative Service Chief Sasun Khachatryan.
In the phone conversation, Vanetsyan and Khachatryan are heard discussing the detention of former Armenian President Robert Kocharyan and the ongoing investigation of the events of March 1, 2008.
Police allege that the website published the conversation two days before the others did, on September 11, andthen deleted it. The implication is that the website has close links to Robert Kocharyan and colluded with Armenia’s second president to beat other websites to the punch.
Kocharyan has pointed to the tape to bolster his claim that the Pashinyan government has launched a political vendetta against him.
Hakobyan refuted the allegation, stating that the website is owned by Vardan Hovnanyyan and that it published the conversation at the same time as other websites.