Moscow, 6 December 2000 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. businessman Edmond Pope was found guilty of espionage and sentenced to the maximum term of 20 years in prison. Pope's lawyer called the judgement "not objective and unfair," but said he would have to speak to Pope before appealing. The seven-week trial was held behind closed doors. But Pope's wife and a few journalists were allowed in for the reading of the conviction. The court's decision came today just a few hours after Pope once more pleaded his innocence. Pope, a former U.S. Naval intelligence officer, was arrested last April and charged with obtaining secret blueprints of a high-speed Russian underwater torpedo.
But the defense argued that the documents were not confidential since they were available in specialized magazines.
Pope has been held in Moscow's Lefortovo prison since his arrest. The U.S. criticised the court ruling and called on Moscow to release him on humanitarian grounds.