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Armenian Arrested For Facebook Claim That Pashinian Congratulated Trump


Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian (file photo)

Armenian authorities have arrested a man over a Facebook post that claimed Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian congratulated U.S. President Donald Trump for assassinating Iran's top military commander.

The National Security Service (SNB) on January 5 posted a video of the man being detained, saying the authorities had identified social-media users who had spread false information and harmed Armenia's national-security interests.

The claim was made on a Facebook page set up by a man who used the false identity of Diana Arutyunian, the SNB said.

The false claim about Pashinian congratulating Trump was posted after the assassination of Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani by a U.S. drone strike near Baghdad International Airport on January 3.

The SNB said the claim was "aimed at inciting national, racial, and religious hostility." It also said that the claim had been quoted by media in Azerbaijan and Iran.

The SNB said a criminal case had been launched. But the identity of the man arrested and held responsible for hosting the page was not revealed.

In the video released by the SNB, the man being detained admits that he created the page in 2018 and was responsible for the false claim about Pashinian.

Pashinian denied the claim in his own Facebook post, calling it "fake news." The Armenian leader also called on both the United States and Iran to exercise restraint amid rising tensions following Soleimani's assassination.

Armenia maintains close ties with both Iran and the United States.

On January 3, Armenia's Foreign Ministry said recent incidents between Iran and the United States risked "further undermining regional security and destabilizing the situation in the Middle East and beyond."

It called on both sides to de-escalate tensions "exclusively through peaceful means."

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