Armenia seeks to release its arrested pilots

Pravda, Russia
March 24 2004

Armenia seeks to release its arrested pilots

The Armenian foreign ministry is taking further efforts to set free
Armenian pilots who have been arrested for their participation in a
plot against the government of Equatorial Guinea, spokesman for the
ministry Gamlet Gasparyan told reporters on Wednesday.

According to Mr. Gasparyan, in line with the contract signed with the
Armenian-based Dvin Kontsern airlines, six Armenian pilots had been
staying in Malabo, capital of Equatorial Guinea, since January 2004
and using an AN-12 aircraft registered in Armenia. Late on March 7
the Armenian pilots were arrested.

The authorities of Equatorial Guinea are accusing them of organising
a coup in this country, of being mercenaries and of espionage.
Allegedly, the pilots gathered political, economic and military

“The charges forwarded against the pilots are very contradictory and
have nothing to do with their work. The authorities of Equatorial
Guinea present them as militant mercenaries while they are
professional and experienced pilots. The Guinean authorities claim
that the Armenian citizens had infiltrated their country by ship. The
espionage charges are not logical either because the pilots knew
nothing about the country’s customs, its language and the territory,
and therefore could not have been involved in espionage in Malabo,”
said Mr. Gasparyan.

According to the spokesman for the Armenian foreign ministry,
Armenia’s diplomatic representations in Moscow and New York are
negotiating the release of the Armenian pilots with the Guinean

Besides, the Armenian foreign ministry has appealed to the Red Cross
and the Amnesty International organisations for help.

“The Armenian foreign ministry is ready to send its diplomats to
Equatorial Guinea to address these problems, if need be,” said Mr.