Perhaps because of this direct challenge to the Soviets, both on Shcharansky and on the broader range of human rights causes, which Carter sought to champion, the Kremlin adamantly refused to consider releasing Shcharansky until now.
And, although Shcharansky encountered serious difficulties with his health, he was kept in prison for six years, rather than being transferred to the relatively easier life in labor camp after three years, in keeping with the original sentence. His prison term had been extended by three years, allegedly because he was disobedient to authorities and had a bad influence on other prisoners.
He specifically rejected the request of his mother and brother in Moscow and his wife, Avital, in Israel, to ask for clemency after serving half of his sentence. He reportedly told them that the petition might be cited by the Soviets as proof that he was guilty.
Robert C. Toth of The Times Washington Bureau wrote this story there before flying to Israel for the arrival of Anatoly Shcharansky.