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Russian Said to Recant Spy Testimony

November 09, 2000|From Associated Press

MOSCOW — The lawyer for an American accused of spying in Russia said Wednesday that the professor from whom Edmond D. Pope allegedly obtained technical data on a torpedo system has recanted his testimony. The court refused to immediately accept the claim.

Pope, a businessman and former U.S. Navy officer, was arrested in April and is being tried behind closed doors in Moscow on charges of trying to buy classified plans for a high-speed Russian torpedo system.

He allegedly obtained some of the information from Anatoly Babkin, a professor at Moscow's Bauman Technical Institute.

Before the trial resumed Wednesday, Pope's attorney, Pavel Astakhov, distributed what he said was a letter Babkin wrote to the court last week.

"I recant my testimony concerning Edmond Pope, which I gave under pressure, having a grave heart condition preceding a heart attack," the letter said.

"I signed the protocol of my interrogation without even reading it," it said. "In fact, I have never met Edmond Pope face to face and have not given him any sensitive information."

A few hours later, government RTR television showed what it said was a Federal Security Service tape of Pope meeting Babkin.

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