The European Union will follow the forthcoming hearing of Pasko’s appeal case closely. This is confirmed by the European Commission’s delegation in Russia in a letter to the Bellona foundation dated June 18.
The letter stresses that the European Union has brought to the attention of the Russian authorities its concern that the trial “should demonstrably conform to all legal norms, including Russia’s international obligations.”
It also underlines that the European Union is well aware of the views regarding the prosecution of Pasko that has been raised by Amnesty International, the Helsinki Federation, the Committee to protect Journalists, the PEN-club and others.
In a written parliamentary question raised today, Mr. Matti Wuori, a Finnish lawyer and member of the European Parliament, focused on what appears as a Russian desinformation campaign on the Pasko-case.
In particular Mr. Wuori pointed to the fact that president Vladimir Putin, when meeting Jaques Chirac in Paris earlier this year, stated publicly that it was an undisputed “fact” that Pasko had transferred classified information to Japan. He also underlined that the Kremlin-controlled ORT-TV has transmitted several programs on the case presenting a twisted version of the events in order to smear Pasko in the public eye as a traitor and a spy.
Pasko was, however, not convicted for transferring any single item of information to Japan. His alleged crime was that he possessed information that he “intended” to hand over to the Japanese. Although the prosecution was not even close to prove that Pasko had this intention, he was still convicted to four years.
Mr. Wuori asked whether or not the European Commission would bring up with the Russian authorities that the said circumstances seem to be in disconformity with the presumption of innocence.
Grigory Pasko was arrested on November 20, 1997 and charged with treason through espionage. He was acquitted of these charges by the Pacific Fleet Court in Vladivostok of on July 20, 1999, but sentenced to a three-year imprisonment for ‘abuse of his official position although he was not charged with that crime, and released on a general amnesty.
After both sides had appealed, the Military Supreme Court cancelled the verdict in November 2000 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 and taken into custody. Both sides again appealed against the verdict. The appeal case has been scheduled to June 25, 2002.