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The BBC's Raphael Jesurum
"The United States says he should be set free on health grounds"
 real 56k

The BBC's Steve Rosenberg in Moscow
"The verdict threatens to damage relations between Russia and the United States"
 real 28k

P.J. Crowley, White House spokesman
"We think the verdict is unjustifiable"
 real 28k

Pavel Astakhov, Edmond Pope's lawyer
"The trial was not objective"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 6 December, 2000, 20:35 GMT
Russia jails US 'spy'
Edmond Pope
Edmond Pope: "Ready to die in Siberian camp"
An American businessman has been found guilty of espionage by a Russian court and sentenced to 20 years in jail in a high security labour camp.

Edmond Pope, who is suffering from a rare form of bone cancer said he was "ready to die in a Siberian camp," according to his lawyer, Pavel Astakhov.

"I am not a spy ... the only possible verdict is to let me go home to my family,"

Edmond Pope
Mr Pope denied the charge of illegally obtaining classified blueprints for a high-speed torpedo, but got the maximum sentence demanded by the prosecution.

The United States called on Moscow to release Mr Pope, 54, on "humanitarian grounds".

A White House spokesman said: "We are deeply disappointed by today's verdict.

cheri pope
Cheri Pope: "Shocked" by husband's condition
"Throughout this case we have seen no evidence that Mr. Pope violated any Russian laws."

President Bill Clinton, who has repeatedly appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin for Mr Pope's release, was "following the developments closely".

Senators have urged him to consider freezing economic aid to Russia,

Greg Walden from Mr Pope's home state of Oregan called the ruling an "inexcusable travesty of justice".

He said: "If Russia forces Ed Pope to serve prison time, that country's relationship with the United Strates will be forever scarred."

Mr Pope, a retired US naval intelligence officer, made a final emotional statement in his defence.

Public domain

"I am not a spy, even if I have spent eight months in a Russian prison... the only possible verdict is to let me go home to my family," he told the court.

Pavel Astakhov
Pavel Astakhov: Taking advice on appeal
Russian state television has broadcast part of an interview which it said was conducted after his conviction, in which the businessman said he did not regret visiting Russia.

"I regret what happened, but I do not regret coming to Russia," he said. "I have respect for the Russian people".

No independent journalists have been given access to Mr Pope.

During the six-week trial, Mr Pope conceded that he had purchased on behalf of his hi-tech company documents relating to Russia's underwater Shkval torpedo, but argued that the information was already in the public domain.

Mr Pope's wife Cheri, who held her husband's hand during the sentencing, said she was "shocked" by his condition in Moscow's notorious Lefortovo jail when she visited him last week.

Mr Pope, who does not speak Russian, was been denied the services of an independent interpreter, being allowed one only from the Federal Security Service which brought the charge against him.

Appeal 'certain'

Mr Pope, founder of a company specialising in studying foreign maritime equipment, is the first US citizen to stand trial for espionage in Moscow since 1960, when Gary Powers' U2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union.

Powers was convicted but later exchanged for a Soviet agent working in the US.

Correspondents say an appeal is certain.

It is likely that US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, will discuss the case with the Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, when they meet later this month.

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See also:

21 Oct 00 | Europe
Clinton asks Russia to free 'spy'
05 Apr 00 | Europe
US 'spy' held in Moscow
13 Sep 99 | Britain betrayed
Who's being spied on?
05 Apr 00 | Europe
Analysis: Spymasters change focus
01 Dec 00 | Media reports
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