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Exclusive: Diaspora Leader Mourad Franck Papazian’s Legal Battle for Entry into Armenia

Exclusive: Diaspora Leader Mourad Franck Papazian’s Legal Battle for Entry into Armenia

Exclusive Interview: The RA Administrative Court convened today to address the case of Mourad (Franck) Papazian, Chairman of the coordinating council of Armenian companies in France and a member of the ARF Bureau. Notably, the preliminary court session initially took place in August. However, in October, Papazian and his legal team were informed of a judge replacement, prompting the need for a new preliminary court session.

On the night of July 13-14, 2022, Papazian, accompanied by his family, arrived in Armenia but encountered an unexplained entry denial at Zvartnots Airport. After a day's detention at the airport, he was sent back to France. Subsequently, Papazian filed a lawsuit against the National Security Service with the RA Administrative Court, seeking the removal of his data from the database of foreigners deemed undesirable in the RA territory.

Siranush Sahakyan, Papazian's legal representative in Yerevan, conveyed to The Armenian Report after the session that the National Security Service failed to furnish evidence to the court justifying Papazian's entry ban into Armenia. Sahakyan highlighted that no factual data supports the characterization of Diaspora Armenian figures, whose entry to Armenia was prohibited, as criminals. She underscored the intention to escalate the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) if Papazian's rights aren't reinstated in RA courts.

During an exclusive interview with The Armenian Report, Sahakyan emphasized the denial of entry to Armenian diaspora members critical of Armenian public officials' policies on Artsakh and border security. She detailed instances where some members organized protests against the Prime Minister or Armenian government representatives abroad, resulting in punitive measures. Sahakyan criticized these actions, considering them in contravention of the Armenian Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, viewing them as interference with civil and political rights.

Moreover, Sahakyan highlighted that while the court decided to conduct the hearing behind closed doors, it obliged the National Security Service to provide essential documentation, enabling the applicant to understand the accusations against them.

Anticipating the trial's continuation in January next year due to a delayed court hearing, Sahakyan refuted any established connection between Papazian's activities and protests against the Prime Minister, asserting that Armenian legislation's restrictions on foreign citizens' entry should align with state interests, not private ones.

Papazian also released a statement to The Armenian Report. He expressed his resolve to regain his right to return to Armenia. He urged Armenia's justice system to provide reasons for his removal and participation in the trial, warning of recourse to the ECHR if justice remained elusive.

Papazian reiterated his commitment to fighting for his right to return to Armenia, a country for which he had dedicated over 40 years of his life.


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