5 Jan 2020 23:45

Disseminator of fake news about Pashinyan's congratulations to Trump for anti-Iranian operation identified as criminal case defendant

YEREVAN. Jan 5 (Interfax) - The Armenian National Security Service has detained administrator of a Facebook fake page, aka Diana Arutyunyan, who spread information that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has allegedly congratulated United States President Donald Trump on "organizing a successful" anti-Iranian operation.

The video shared by the Armenian National Security Service showed the detained man confessing that he has been maintaining a social network page since 2018.

"I wrote and disseminated this information to defile Armenian authorities, because I have opposition views and think that the arrest of Robert Kocharyan [the former Armenian president, who is charged with overthrowing the country's constitutional system] is unjust. I could not imagine that this false piece of news would be so widely spread and could harm Armenia's interests and security. I regret about that and apologize for what I have done," the man said in his confessing testimony.

The article telling about Pashinyan's congratulations to Trump was published on January 3, and was later published in Azerbaijani and Iranian media that "substantially harmed Armenian national security interests," the press service of the National Security Service said.

A criminal inquiry was launched, and the man, whose name is not disclosed, was detained.

The authors of false information and their motivation must be uncovered, Pashinyan wrote on his Facebook account.

He said information that he congratulated Trump on carrying out "a successful anti-Iranian operation" is false.

"The Armenian-language fake page is spreading false news that I congratulated U.S. President Donald Trump on organizing a 'successful' anti-Iranian operation. This information is swiftly becoming the spotlight of the day in Azerbaijani press. From Azerbaijani press it is getting into Iranian media and becoming a source of anti-Armenian inspiration sought by certain forces. This is precisely the case when the false freedom of speech posed a threat for national security of the country. The authors of this information and their motivation should be established," Pashinyan said.

The U.S. and Iran should not take any steps, which deteriorate the already volatile situation in the region, the Armenian prime minister said earlier on Sunday.

Pashinyan said on Sunday Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif had had a phone conversation.

"The foreign ministers of Armenia and Iran have had a phone conversation today to discuss the situation in the region. The Armenian foreign minister extended his condolences to the government and the people of Iran over the situation that led to human casualties," Pashinyan said live on his Facebook account.

Iran and the U.S. are countries that are friendly to Armenia, he said.

"In this situation, we cannot get involved in anti-Iranian and anti-American actions. And our message is that our partners in Iran and the United States should refrain from taking steps that could worsen the already tense situation in our region and international relations," Pashinyan said.

As reported, commander of Iran's elite Quds Force Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani was killed in a missile attack carried out by the U.S. Air Force on Baghdad International Airport in the early hours of January 3. The special operation to eliminate him in Iraq was prepared and carried out on President Trump's orders.