At a one-day visit to France yesterday, Russian president Vladimir Putin told reporters at a news conference that he “did not go into details” of the Pasko-case. He then added that it had been proven that Pasko had passed over to Japan a document with a “secret” stamp. — Nobody doubts these facts, not even Pasko’s own attorneys, Putin said.
A deceived president?
With these statements the Russian President either served a blatant lie or disclosed that he might have have been decived by his staff. The truth is that Pasko has not been convicted for having passed over a single item of secret information to Japan
His alleged ‘crime’ crime was that he was in the possession of notes that he made while attending a meeting of the Staff of the Pacific Fleet on September 11, 1997. The Court supposed that Pasko kept the notes at his flat and intended to transfer them to Japanese journalist Tadashi Okano, although no transferral actually took place.
Since the difference between passing over to foreigners documents carrying a secret stamp, and keeping your own hand-written notes at home is considerable, Putin’s statements are fitted for smearing Pasko in the public eye. Thus, he has stepped rather close to violating Article 6 (2) of the European Convention on Human Rights (see for instance the European Court of Human Rights’ decission in the Allenet de Riebemont v. France case from 1995). After all, Putin is not an ordinary humble civil cervant, but the head of state…
A juridical case
Putin said that the case is purely of juridical character, and he saw no possibilities to interfere in the actions of the judicial system. The president did however, add that Pasko’s actions had not damaged the state interests, and that he would be ready to evaluate an appeal for pardon, if such an appeal arrives.
According to Russian news agency RIA-Novosti, Pasko thanked Putin through his lawyer, but added that the latter would not get any appeal for pardon, as he prefers to fight for a full acquittal. — I am not guilty and will continue the fight for my clear name and full acquittal, the imprisoned journalist said.
Grigory Pasko was arrested on November 20, 1997. He was acquitted by the Pacific Fleet Court in Vladivostok of treason through espionage on July 20, 1999, but sentenced to a three-year imprisonment for misusing his position and released on a general amnesty.
Both sides appealed the verdict. In November 2000 the Military Supreme Court cancelled the verdict, and sent the case back for a new trial at the Pacific Fleet Court. The re-trial started on July 11, 2001 and ended on December 25, with Pasko being convicted to four years of hard labour for treason and taken into custody. Amnesty International adopted Pasko as a prisoner of conscience on January 7, 2002, saying that the prosecution of Pasko seems “motivated by political reprisal for exposing the practice of dumping nuclear waste”. Also the latest decision has been appealed by both sides.