Categories
Internet Legal Politics Security Social Networks

A Facebook user detained on pretext of “endangering national security” in Armenia

A Facebook user, who recently came to the center of public attention for posting misinformation under the pseudonym Դիանա Հարությունյան (Diana Harutyunyan) has been detained by the National Security Service of Armenia, after Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called the user’s posting a threat to national security.

The Facebook account in question seems to be deleted by now. Last time I accessed it, the account’s About section made it clear that it is a sarcastic and/or parody account.

Following the US Drone strike in Iraq, which killed the Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, the Facebook user had posted misinformation, as if theArmenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has congratulated the US President Donald Trump on the “successful operation.” The misinformation had been first picked up by Azeri news sites and then by the Iranian ones, risking serious consequences for Armenian – Iranian relations.

“This is the case, when the false “freedom of speech” has endangered our national security,” Nikol Pashinian stated in a Facebook post. “The authors of the news and their motives must be investigated,” Armenian PM wrote.

Hours after Pashinian’s post, the National Security Service issued a statement, claiming it had carried out “investigative – operative activities” and as a result identified and detained the Facebook user.

Commenting on OWASP Armenia Facebook groups, cyber-security expert Samvel Martirosyan finds it unlikely that the NSS would have the technical capabilities to identify the user with technical means. He also excludes the possibility that Facebook would have provided data on the user for such a posting and in such a short period of time.

Meanwhile, Armenia’s top lawyer specialized on technological issues — David Sandukhchyan, has raised serious concerns about the legal aspects of the detention and claimed that the Facebook posting does not constitute a crime according to Armenian legislation and mocked both Pashinian and the the NSS for claiming that “the post by some fake user can endanger national security.”

Referring to the video published by the NSS (see below this post), which neither publishes the real name of the Facebook user, nor the article of criminal code, according to which the detention has taken place, Sandukhchyan has also written “What if there was no fake at all and it was done only to scare people, who post undesirable content on Facebook?

PS: I should just add that this is a very troubling development, since this is the second case, when a Facebook user has been detained after Pashinian directly instructed the National Security Services to take action.

Categories
Armenia Politics Society

TV host Felix Khachatryan, banned from Public TV for years, returns

After former PM Hovik Abrahamian’s fall from power, TV host, rapper Felix Khachatrian is allowed to return to the Public TV of Armenia as the host of the new program “Formula of Love” («Սիրո բանաձև»).

Categories
Armenia Politics

Armenia's Press Freedom Score Highest in The Past Decade


Armenia’s rank has improved by 3 points in this year’s Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders, but we’re still ranked in the “noticeable problems” category.

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Categories
Armenia Politics Region

Denial and Freedom of Speech


General Assembly resolution 260 (III) of 9 December 1948 (Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide) states, that (a) Genocide, (b) Conspiracy to commit genocide, (c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide, (d) Attempt to commit genocide and (e) Complicity in genocide are all acts, which shall be punishable.

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Categories
Armenia Legal Society Tech

The Devil's Advocate

Lawyer Artur Grigoryan

An Armenian lawyer has filed a suit against “Hraparak” daily newspaper for not moderating readers’ comments on the paper’s online version, which supposedly damage the lawyer’s reputation and which he c onsiders offensive.

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Categories
Uncategoriezed

IFJ Marks ‘End of Deadly Decade' With Report on Journalists and Media Staff Killed in 2009

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)  yesterday issued its report on 139  journalists and media workers who were killed or died while practicing journalism in the course of 2009. The IFJ says that 2009, one of the worst years for journalists’ killings, capped a violent decade which put journalism to the sword and left record numbers of murders of media people.

Categories
Armenia

HRW points to lack of 'meaningful investigation' into March'08 violence

“The Armenian authorities have yet to ensure meaningful investigations into excessive use of police force during March 2008 clashes with opposition supporters protesting alleged fraud in the previous month’s presidential election, and address related allegations of abuse in police custody,”  Human Rights Watch, a recognized human rights watchdog, said in a report released today.
The 612-page report, the organization’s 20th annual review of human rights practices around the globe, summarizes major human rights trends in more than 90 nations and territories worldwide.

Categories
Armenia

Armenian journalists protest detention of bloggers and journalists in Iran?

First through Facebook, than through Unzipped I found out that a group of Armenian journalists and photographers have issued a statement protesting recent arrests and detention of their colleagues and bloggers in Iran, following disputed presidential election and post-election protests in Tehran.
While I support the statement wholeheartedly, something that fells a little uneasy about this statement is the fact, that the same “Armenian journalists and photographers” didn’t seem to move a finger when their collegues were beaten and threatened in Armenia, but in case of Iran – they dash out like this. Is there something I don’t understand?

Categories
Armenia

Presidential 'hotline' to act against 'false information' in Armenia

Public relations and information center of the President’s Administration has launched a ‘Hot-line’ service aimed at collecting data on cases of misinformation and falsifications of facts related to Armenia and Armenians from the internet and various other open sources of information. The service will also look for “violations of the right to receive reliable information with the objective of taking action to eradicate such violations”.
“Dissemination of inaccurate, partial, false information and misinformation, formation of negative opinion about Armenia and Armenians seriously damage the international authority of the Republic of Armenia and the information interests of Armenians”, the official statement runs – soliciting calls to hotline@iprc.am if met with such information.
This news poses a variety of questions. What is the prime target for the center? Will it be paying more attention to information sources based in Turkey, Azerbaijan? If yes – how does the center plan to counter disinformation disseminated by them – clearly it has neither the authority nor the technical means to counter information disseminated by news outlets like Hurriet or Day.az.
Does this than turn out to become a tool directly primarily at news sources based in Armenia? Can it be considered a disguised form of censorship? What is the legal basis for the ‘action’ to be taken? The Armenian Constitution and media legislation says nothing about the ‘right to receive reliable information’ – who has invented it and for what purpose?

(Thanks to Ogostos’ blog for bringing this to my attention)

Categories
Armenia Politics

Gagik Tsarukian vs Aharon Adibekian

Armenia’s richest man – Gagik Tsarukyan bets $1 milion, saying sociologist Aharon Adibekyan won’t be able to prove claims, that Tsarukyan’s “Prosperous Armenia” party has a very low rating.
It all started on the air of Shant TV’s “Herankar” talk-show program. The guest in studio, sociologist Aharon Adibekyan, who has many times been accused by various opposition forces and even coalition parties, for manipulating sociological surveys, in response to program host Nver Mnatsakanian’s question made a statement, that the political rating of “Prosperous Armenia” («Բարգավաճ Հայաստան») party is very low.
Next day on the air of the same program Gagik Tsarukyan, the founder and leader of “Prosperous Armenia”, discounted Adibekian’s claims, saying he’ll bet $1 million (later corrected to 1 million Armenian drams), that Adibekian won’t be able to back his claims with data.
E-channel quotes Adibekian saying he’s sorry that “a political figure of that calibre acts on restaurant mentality.”
“Prosperous Armenia” party has in its turn issued a statement, saying “Sociology is generally a serious science, if serious people practice it.” The party revels, that Aharon Adibekyan has been expecting a “tailored” offer from Gagik Tsarukyan, with data manipulated to the tastes of the “Prosperos Armenia” party. The party statement implies, that seeing he is not getting an offer, Adibekian has come out with statements about the low rating of the party.
“Adibekian has now received an offer [Tsarukian’s bet], so instead of pointless talk he ought to either accept it, or apologise in a due manner for dishonoring a serious science like sociology”, the party’s statement concludes.
PS: In a possibly related development Nver Mnatsakanyan, Shant TV’s leading anchor and political journalist, who initiatited the discussion above, was beaten in Yerevan last night.