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Russian Journalist Faces New Trial

November 21, 2000

MOSCOW (AP) _ The Russian Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered that a military journalist who had been acquitted of treason charges face a new trial for his reporting.

The journalist, Grigory Pasko, was accused of divulging information about the combat readiness of Russia’s Pacific Fleet to the Japanese television station NHK.

Pasko, a naval captain who worked as a reporter for a military newspaper in the Russian Far East, told the Interfax news agency that the revival of the years-old case showed that ``Russia is becoming a torture chamber.″

Pasko claimed the charges were contrived to punish him for reports he filed about the fleet’s nuclear waste dumping practices.

He was acquitted of the treason charge last year, but convicted on a lesser charge of improper military conduct. Sentenced to three years, Pasko was immediately freed because he had served more than half his sentence while his case worked its way through the courts.

Prosecutors appealed the verdict, demanding a treason conviction, while the defense protested even the lesser conviction.

The case was sent to the Military Collegium of the Russian Supreme Court, which ordered the retrial, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

Prosecutor Sergei Adonin said he was pleased with the decision, the report said.

The ruling means it could be a year to 18 months before a new verdict is reached, Pasko’s lawyer Anatoly Pyshkin said. Pasko warned that the Supreme Court ``ruling will dissuade other journalists from doing investigative work,″ ITAR-Tass reported.

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