YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—Four Armenian citizens currently under detention in the Azerbaijani Autonomous Nakhichevan Republic are being tortured by Azerbaijani authorities, Deputy Chief of the Armenian Armed Forces General Staff Arshak Karapetyan said Thursday.
Vanik Zmboyan, Artem Zohrabyan, Karen Torosyan and Aghasi Yenokyan were detained by Azeri authorities in Nakhichevan in mid April.
News of their capture was first reported by Azerbaijani media on April 29 and confirmed by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry the next day. A ministry spokesman, Eldar Sabiroglu, was quoted by the Day.az news service as saying that the four young men are Armenian army commandos who were sent to Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave on a sabotage mission.
But the Armenian Defense Ministry maintains that they are civilians who accidentally strayed into Azerbaijani territory after visiting their friend serving in an Armenian army unit stationed in the southern Vayots Dzor region that borders on Nakhichevan.
"We possess information that they are being physically and psychologically suppressed, said Karapetyan. “The Azeri side wants to force a confession that they are guerillas who planned a sabotage operation in Azerbaijan."
"We never leave our citizens in trouble,” he stressed. “Sooner or later they will all return home."
The four men were scheduled for release shortly after their arrest, but it was postponed and no timetable for a release was given by the Azeri authorities.
"The Azeris are not keeping contact, making further talks impossible. If they want to change the rules, we will accept that and our response will be resolute," Karapetyan stated.
The Azeris do not have any legal grounds to accuse Armenian citizens of a sabotage attempt,” explained Armenian Defense Ministry Spokesman Colonel Seyran Shahsuvaryan. "They are trying to legally substantiate the arrest of our citizens and allege that Armenia’s were detained according to the legal procedures of the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry.”