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Russia: U.S. Wants Accused Spy Released

Washington, 30 August 2000 (RFE/RL) - The United States says it is concerned about the safety of Americans traveling or living in Russia, particularly business people. State Department Spokesman Philip Reeker made the comment yesterday amid fresh U.S. criticism of the Russian authorities' treatment of accused spy Edmund Pope. Pope, a former U.S. naval intelligence officer who suffers from a rare form of bone cancer, was detained in April and remains in Moscow's Lefortovo prison. He has denied the charges. The U.S. spokesman called for Pope's immediate release. "We have seen absolutely no evidence that Mr. Pope has violated any Russian laws, and we are both disturbed and concerned that he remains in custody. To the best of my knowledge, no trial date has been set. And we believe, once again, that the Russian government should release Mr. Pope and allow him to return home."

Pope's wife, who has been allowed to visit him, has said he is in a weak condition but that Russia has refused to allow American doctors to see him.

The U.S. State Department spokesman stopped short of advising U.S. citizens not to travel to Russia, but said the "implications" of Russia's handling of the Pope case should be examined.