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Archive for Thursday, October 19, 2000

U.S. businessman facing spy trial in Russia

October 19, 2000

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— Opening the espionage trial against U.S. businessman Edmond Pope, a Moscow judge agreed Wednesday to an independent medical examination to determine whether the American is healthy enough to remain in prison.

Pope, a retired U.S. Navy officer from State College, Pa., was arrested in April by Russia's Federal Security Service on charges that he tried to buy plans for a high-speed Russian torpedo. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The 54-year-old Pope who has been treated for a rare form of bone cancer says he's innocent. The United States has called repeatedly for his release from Moscow's Lefortovo prison, where he has been held for six months.

U.S. officials have warned that the case could discourage American investment in Russia. Russian officials have responded by saying American criticism amounts to meddling in Russia's legal system.

Pope's lawyer, Pavel Astakhov, told reporters at the Moscow city court that he did not see the 26-page indictment until Wednesday, and that Pope had not been permitted to study it closely because it was based on classified documents.

The judge, Nina Barkina, ordered the defense to submit by Friday the names of doctors they want to examine Pope. Astakhov said he would insist on an American doctor a request that has been denied.

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