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Russian Court Keeps Spy Conviction

January 9, 2002

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MOSCOW (AP) _ Russia’s Supreme Court refused Wednesday to overturn an espionage verdict against a former high-level diplomat accused of spying for South Korea.

Valentin Moiseyev has been jailed since his 1998 arrest following the detention of South Korean diplomat Cho Sung-woo. Russia expelled Cho, alleging that he was a spy.

``This is a mockery of common sense,″ said Moiseyev, 55. He and his lawyers said they would appeal to the Supreme Court’s presidium, a higher body within the court. His wife, Natalya Denisova, said she was trying to bring the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

A former deputy chief of the Foreign Ministry’s Asia desk, Moiseyev was convicted in August and sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison for passing secrets to South Korea for several years.

His trial is one of several recent cases of Russian citizens accused on espionage for contacts with foreigners, drawing widespread criticism from human rights groups. Grigory Pasko, a military journalist, was convicted and sentenced last month to four years in prison for illegally attending a secret meeting of military commanders.

Asked before the hearing Wednesday if his case had any connection to Pasko, Moiseyev said: ``I don’t have a lot of information, but I think these are links in a single chain.″

In Moiseyev’s earlier trial, he was convicted and sentenced to 12 years, but the Supreme Court overturned that conviction because it said investigators hadn’t observed the law.

Prosecutors appealed the second verdict, saying the sentence was too light, and Moiseyev also appealed. In announcing that verdict, the judge said Moiseyev had worked for the Soviet KGB and suggested he had been a double agent.

Defense lawyer Yuri Gervis said earlier this week that prosecutors had failed to prove any concrete incidents in which Moiseyev had passed on secrets to South Korean intelligence agents. For example, he said Moiseyev had established that he was part of a delegation visiting North Korea at the time of an alleged 1994 meeting in Moscow.

His defense also claimed that evidence has been tampered with to create the impression he gave information to South Korea.

``His guilt has not been proved,″ said Sergei Kovalyov, a prominent human rights activist and member of parliament, who came to observe Wednesday’s hearing.

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