Yuri Shmidt, the journalists’ lawyer, said that the district court’s ruling was so strongly supportive of the journalists that it would have been impossible for the Supreme Court to overturn it.
FSB officers raided Zvezda in November 2002, searching the newspaper’s editorial offices and questioning editor-in-chief Sergey Trushnikov regarding the source of the information. In March 2003, the FSB charged the journalists with revealing state secrets. If convicted, the journalists faced up to four years in prison.
On July 22, after a month-long closed trial, the Perm district court acquitted the journalists on the basis that they were not the original source of confidential information, which they published in the course of their professional activity. The Perm district court sentenced a local police officer, who had provided the journalists with information about the FSB informant, to two years in jail for disclosing a state secret.
In August, the prosecutor general’s office in Perm appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court. But on November 6, the Supreme Court upheld the acquittal.