Tags: Testimony | Pope | Spy | Case | Recanted

Testimony in Pope Spy Case Recanted

Wednesday, 08 November 2000 12:00 AM

Anatoly Babkin, a 70-year-old professor at Moscow's elite Bauman Technical University, said in his statement that he had testified in Pope's case under investigators' pressure and was changing the testimony he had been forced to give.

Babkin was arrested in April when he was allegedly trading classified information with Pope on Russia's Shkval high-speed torpedo for $30,000 in cash.

After his arrest, Babkin suffered a heart attack and later was released on condition he stay in the country.

Because of his bad health, Babkin could not appear in court, but his lawyer Pavel Astakhov read his written statement Wednesday before the scheduled hearing into Pope's case.

Babkin "says that during the preliminary investigation he didn't read at all the protocol of his questioning, he testified under pressure being in a pre-heart-attack state," said Astakhov.

"He never met with Pope one-on-one, and he never passed to Pope any secret information, neither did Pope ask him to pass such information to him."

The court refused to attach Babkin's letter to the case files because State Prosecutor Oleg Plotnikov insisted that it had not been officially registered at the court's protocol office. Astakhov said that he had collected the letter at the Moscow Attorneys' Collegium, where it was brought by Babkin's wife, Galina Yashina.

The court also ruled out Astakhov's other requests - to have Babkin questioned at home or in hospital and to have his wife testify.

The case is being tried behind closed doors and the court has decided to have Babkin testify in the courtroom when his health gets better. The court refused to summon Babkin's wife as a witness.

On Sunday, NTV ran an audio recording of a conversation between two unidentified men, Babkin and his wife that apparently took place at the Babkins' home.

The men were trying to persuade Babkin to confirm his previous testimony, saying it would help replace the charge from Article 275 of Russia's Penal Code - treason - with a milder charge from Article 283 - disclosure of a state secret. If found guilty of treason for selling classified information to Pope, Babkin could be sentenced from 12 to 20 years' imprisonment. The second charge carries a sentence of maximum seven years in prison and falls under amnesty.

In its late-night 11 p.m. (3 p.m. EST) newscast on Wednesday, the state-run RTR television network broadcast a short video clip shot by a hidden camera in Pope's hotel room showing Pope, Babkin and two other people discussing technical details of the torpedo's fuel system and ways to convey information.

Pope's case depends largely on the court's judgment in regard to the secrecy of the materials he had obtained.

At Thursday's hearing the court will hear professor Georgy Logvinovich, the head of the team of scholars that designed Shkval. The Shkval torpedo, moving at 223 mph, is considered to be the top product of the Russian military know-how. Logvinovich also chairs the panel of experts that labeled the information Pope had got hold of as classified and is now expected to either confirm or deny that claim.

The defense plans to file an appeal demanding that Logvinovich be removed from the panel as he is already involved in the case in the capacity of a witness.

If the court finds Pope guilty of espionage, he could face 20 years in prison.

Copyright 2000 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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Anatoly Babkin, a 70-year-old professor at Moscow's elite Bauman Technical University, said in his statement that he had testified in Pope's case under investigators' pressure and was changing the testimony he had been forced to give. Babkin was arrested in April when...
Testimony,Pope,Spy,Case,Recanted
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2000-00-08
Wednesday, 08 November 2000 12:00 AM
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