Foto: Siri EngesÃ¦th/Bellona
Grigory Pasko, an investigative journalist who worked for the Pacific Fleet's newspaper, was arrested in Vladivostok on November 20, 1997. The Russian Security Police, FSB, accused Pasko for having committed high treason through espionage when working with Japanese journalists. Pasko's publications were focusing primarily on nuclear safety issues in the Russian Pacific Fleet. In July 1999 the Court of the Russian Pacific Fleet in Vladivostok acquitted Pasko of the treason charges, but sentenced him to three years in prison for 'abuse of his official position' and released him under a general amnesty. Pasko appealed, but so did the prosecution, insisting that he was a spy. In November 2000 the Military Collegium of the Russian Supreme Court cancelled the verdict, and sent the case back for a re-trial at the Pacific Fleet Court. The new trial ended on Christmas Day 2001, with Pasko being acquitted on nine out of ten charges, but he was still convicted to four years of hard labour for treason and taken into custody. Amnesty International adopted Pasko as a prisoner of conscience on January 7, 2002, saying that the prosecution of Pasko appears to be "motivated by political reprisal for exposing the practice of dumping nuclear waste". After serving two thirds of his sentence Pasko was released on parole by the decision of the Ussuriysk City Court on January 23rd, 2003. Only after 1.5 years since his release Grigory has been allowed to get the international passport and visit his overseas supporters.
The case of Grigory Pasko exposes grave weaknesses within the Russian legal system. As the European Court of Human Rights recently has started to examine the case, the first page of its last chapter has finally been opened. Below follows an overview of the case.comments