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Russia: Newspaper Group Urges Release Of Journalist Pasko

Moscow, 7 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- An international group representing the newspaper industry has called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to release journalist Grigorii Pasko. The call for Pasko's release was issued by the Paris-based World Association of Newspapers -- a group representing some 18,000 newspapers in nearly 100 countries.

Pasko was convicted of espionage and high treason in December for revealing to Japanese journalists that the Russian navy was dumping radioactive waste in the Pacific Ocean. Pasko formerly was a military journalist for the Pacific Fleet's newspaper, "Boyevaya Vakhta." He was arrested in the case during 1997.

A Russian military court found Pasko guilty of espionage and high treason, and sentenced him to four years in prison.

Amnesty International and Russian human rights groups also are demanding Pasko's immediate release. The European Union and Germany have called for his conviction to be overturned.