Pasko case is not over

Both the state prosecutor and Pasko’s defence team appealed to overturn the verdict by the Military Court of the Pacific Fleet on 27 July.

The prosecutor, Konstantin Osipenko, who lodged his appeal with the Military Collegium of the Russian Supreme Court, insists on sending the case back to court hearing. The prosecutor protests the annulling of high treason charges and demands 12 years in prison for the defendant.

Navy Captain Grigory Pasko was acquitted of treason by the military court on July 20, but was convicted of a lesser charge of abusing his official position. Sentenced to three years, Pasko was immediately freed under an amnesty as his has already served 20 months in pre-trial detention.

Grigory Pasko, an investigative journalist who worked for the Pacific Fleet’s newspaper, was arrested on 20 November 1997 and was held in custody until 20 July 1999. The Russian Secret Police (FSB, successor to the KGB) was in charge of the case and said Pasko committed high treason when working with Japanese journalists on the issues of radioactive waste management in the Pacific Fleet. The FSB put more than 20 agents to investigate this case. Pasko’s defence says all the information their client handed over to the Japanese was already in the public domain.

The defence team filed an appeal to the Military Collegium of the Russian Supreme Court the same day and demanded a full acquittal of their client. Pasko’s lawyer Yaroslav Gerin said that Pasko’s actions "contained no crime" and all the so-called evidence was obtained by the investigative body with violation of laws.

During ransacking of Pasko’s apartment in search for the crime evidence the FSB forged a number of records and put in names of witnesses who never were present at the time of search. The FSB also retroactively assigned a "classified" status to a number of documents confiscated at the journalist’s apartment.

But the prosecutor says these were just "technical mistakes." The prosecutor, however, admits that the investigation failed to prove that Pasko passed over secret information to the Japanese journalists. "But the fact of gathering information in the interests and on request from the representatives of a foreign state [Japanese journalists] is espionage. There are no doubts that this was the case," the prosecutor argues.

The answer from the Supreme Court can not be predicted. But one thing is clear – the FSB will not rest on the fact that a person charged by them with high treason walks out of the court room as a free man.