Moldovan man accused of spying is released

November 1, 2011 - 11:25 AM
Moldova Daily Life

A Moldovan farm worker carries the trunk of a fallen tree through the corn fields in front of the Capriana monastery in Capriana, Moldova, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011. Moldova is the poorest country in Europe and life in the villages can be particularly demanding. (AP Photo/John McConnico)

CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Separatists in Trans-Dniester, a breakaway region of Moldova, have pardoned and released a man who was sentenced to 14 years in prison on charges of spying as part of broader, internationally brokered conflict negotiations, officials said Tuesday.

Ilie Cazac, a 25-year-old Moldovan tax inspector working in Trans-Dniester, was jailed in February after being convicted of secretly sending information about the region to Moldovan officials.

Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat said Igor Smirnov, Trans-Dniester's separatist leader, freed Cazac on Monday as a result of ongoing negotiations about Moldova and Trans-Dniester that include officials from Russia, the United States and the European Union.

The talks are aimed at resolving the conflict between Moldova and Trans-Dniester, which broke away from Moldova in 1990. The release of Cazac is likely to ease some of the tensions between the two sides.

"I want to thank all those who contributed to the release of Ilie Cazac," Filat said in a Tuesday statement. He added that he was looking forward to meet Cazac in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau.

Trans-Dniester fought a war with Moldova in 1992 that killed 1,500 people. The separatist territory is not internationally recognized but is supported by Russia, which has around 500 troops stationed there.