Related topics

Wife Says Reporter Preparing for “Long Haul” in Soviet Jail

September 9, 1986

MOSCOW (AP) _ Jailed American reporter Nicholas Daniloff said today he believes the espionage charges against him won’t be resolved soon and is preparing for a ″rather long haul,″ according to his wife.

Ruth Daniloff, accompanied by U.S. Consul Roger Daley, met with her husband for the third time in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, where he has been held since the KGB secret police arrested him Aug. 30.

She said Daniloff has undergone 28 hours of interrogation during the past 10 days.

Daniloff, 51, was formally charged with spying by a military prosecutor on Sunday, but no trial date has been set.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennady Gerasimov told reporters today that a ″mutual solution″ to the case could be found. But he accused U.S. officials of using Daniloff’s imprisonment to sour superpower relations.

Gerasimov declined to say what kind of arrangement could be made to free Daniloff.

Asked if Daniloff favored a swap involving a Soviet citizen charged with espionage in New York, Daley said only that Daniloff is ″interested in being released.″

Mrs. Daniloff said her husband appeared in good health.

She said he had the right to refuse to answer questions, but that he did not think that would help his case and was trying to cooperate with the authorities.

″He is philosophical,″ she said. ″He thinks it will be a rather long haul.″

She said Daniloff ″thinks his case is escalating rather dangerously,″ apparently a reference to U.S. threats of retaliation if Daniloff is not released.

″He said this is getting out of hand,″ Mrs. Daniloff said.

Mrs. Daniloff said her husband had complained about the prison food, which had consisted of soup and the porridge-like kasha.

Prison authorities have improved his diet and she didn’t have to leave him the package of food she brought, Mrs. Daniloff said. She did give him a sweater and books, she said.

Daniloff was detained in a Moscow park after a Soviet acquaintance handed him a package which turned out to contain maps marked secret and military photographs. Daniloff has said he did not know what was in the package.

On Monday, the government newspaper Izvestia expanded the allegations against Daniloff to include accusations that he collected intelligence on Afghanistan during his 5 1/2 years in Moscow for the magazine.

The Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan in 1979 and there are more than 100,000 Red Army troops in the country.

Izvestia also tried to link Daniloff with U.S. diplomat Paul Stombaugh, who was expelled last year from the Soviet Union on spying allegations.

Daniloff has denied the espionage charges, and his wife called the Izvestia article ″preposterous.″ She said her husband was framed by the KGB secret police in retaliation for the Aug. 23 arrest in New York of Gennadiy Zakharov, a Soviet U.N. employee accused of spying.

At a news conference by Soviet cultural figures today, Gerasimov was asked to comment on President Reagan’s warning on Monday that Daniloff’s detention could become ″a major obstacle″ in U.S.-Soviet talks.

″Mr. Daniloff’s case should not negatively influence Soviet-American relations,″ Gerasimov said.

″I am convinced of this and if some people in the United States want to establish a link and punish some Soviet scientists, artists, musicians or others, it is only a pretext for those who want to spoil Soviet-U.S. relations,″ he said.

When asked if a diplomatic arrangement to gain the reporter’s release was possible, Gerasimov said:

″U.S.-Soviet relations should not be held hostage to this case of Daniloff. If both sides make serious efforts, I think it would be possible to find a mutual solution to this question.″

Gerasimov declined to elaborate when asked what kind of solution he had in mind.

″I only said that if both sides were interested in the solution of this question, they could find a mutual solution,″ he said. ″That is all I am saying.″

There had been speculation that U.S. and Soviet officials might agree to free Daniloff in exchange for a willingness by U.S. prosecutors to ask a court to grant pretrial release to Zakharov.

But speaking in Denver, Colo., on Monday, Reagan said ″there will be no trade″ with the Soviet Union to win Daniloff’s release.

Without saying what action he might take if the Soviets continue to hold the reporter, Reagan told his audience, ″The Soviet Union is aware of how serious the consquences will be for our relations if Nick Daniloff is not set free.″

Update hourly