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Russia: Putin Pardons Convicted U.S. Spy

Moscow, 14 December (RFE/RL) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has pardoned U.S. businessman Edmond Pope, who was convicted of spying. Russian news agencies say Pope was released from prison today and his lawyer said he flew out of Moscow for the U.S. The Kremlin said Putin pardoned Pope on humanitarian grounds.

Pope was convicted last week on charges that he obtained plans for a secret, high-speed Russian torpedo. During his trial, Pope conceded that he purchased documents related to the torpedo but said the information was already legally available. It was the first spy trial of a U.S. national in 40 years and it caused diplomatic friction between Moscow and Washington.

Pope was sentenced to 20 years of hard labor. But the former Naval officer suffers from a rare form of bone cancer, and a presidential commission recommended his release.