New York, August 12, 2003—The Moscow City Court upheld an earlier July 24 district court ruling today denying a foreign passport to Russian journalist Grigory Pasko.
Ivan Pavlov, Pasko’s attorney, told CPJ in a telephone interview today that Pasko plans to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.
Pasko was convicted of treason and sentenced to four years in prison on December 25, 2001, for intending to leak classified information to Japanese news outlets about the Russian Pacific Fleet’s dumping of nuclear waste in the Sea of Japan. Pasko was released on parole based on good behavior in January 2003 after having served two-thirds of his sentence.
Moscow’s Southeastern District Visa and Registration Authorities (OVIR) denied Pasko’s application for a foreign passport, submitted in March 2003, saying that he was released from prison in January 2003 before serving his full sentence. Pasko and his attorney maintain that Russian law does not contain such restrictions.
“We are appalled that the Russian Federation continues to persecute Grigory Pasko,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia program coordinator Alex Lupis. “We fully support Grigory’s appeal to the European Court of Human Rights to have this unjust ruling overturned.”
Pasko, an investigative military reporter with Boyevaya Vakhta, a newspaper published by the Pacific Fleet, was arrested in November 1997 and charged with passing classified documents to Japanese news outlets. He spent 20 months in prison awaiting trial.
In July 1999, the Military Court of the Pacific Fleet in Vladivostok acquitted Pasko of treason but found him guilty of abusing his authority as an officer. He was immediately amnestied, but four months later the Military Collegium of the Russian Supreme Court canceled the verdict and ordered a new trial.
On December 25, 2001, the Military Court found Pasko guilty of treason and sentenced him to four years in prison. He was held in a temporary detention facility in Vladivostok until October 2002, when he was transferred to a penal colony in Ussuriisk, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northeast of Vladivostok.