3 Yugoslavs Charged With Spying
Sep. 30, 2002
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BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ Military prosecutors on Monday formally charged a former Yugoslav army chief with spying for the United States.
Gen. Momcilo Perisic, who served under Slobodan Milosevic before joining the pro-democracy forces that ousted the Yugoslav president, was arrested in March for allegedly passing military secrets to a U.S. diplomat.
Perisic denied the allegations and said he was the victim of a power struggle among Yugoslav leaders. Just days after being briefly detained, he resigned as deputy prime minister of Serbia, the dominant Yugoslav republic.
On Monday, Perisic and two others were charged with espionage, the state-run Tanjug news agency reported, citing a statement released by military prosecutors. If convicted, the three face between three and 15 years in jail.
Perisic's spokesman, Nebojsa Mandic, said the arrests were political and that Perisic was the innocent victim of a feud between Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica and Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.
The three charged were arrested in March in a motel near Belgrade along with the then first secretary of the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, John Neighbor.
Washington denied the spying allegations and protested Neighbor's detention. The diplomat left the country shortly after being released.
Yugoslav army intelligence has said the documents passed by Perisic were ``relevant for the defense of the country.''
Djindjic has sought to protect Perisic, saying Kostunica's administration and some generals were ``out of control'' and that Perisic had been put under electronic surveillance illegally.
No date has been set for the trial.