VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (AP) - The treason retrial of military journalist Grigory Pasko, acquitted of espionage charges, was postponed for the third time Wednesday in what supporters said was an attempt to break the defendant's will.
The Pacific Military Court in the Far Eastern port of Vladivostok provided no reason for the rescheduling, and presiding judge Sergei Volkov refused to comment on the case. The trial is now set for July 11, said Pasko's lawyer Anatoly Pyshkin.
Pasko was among a number of Russian whistle-blowers and researchers recently accused of espionage for passing allegedly classified information to foreigners.
He was charged with divulging information about the combat-readiness of Russia's Pacific Fleet to Japanese television. However, he contends that the case was really intended to punish him for reports he filed on the fleet's nuclear waste-dumping practices.
Amnesty International has urged Russian authorities to clear Pasko of all charges.
Pasko was cleared of espionage charges by a military court in 1999, but sentenced to three years in prison on charges of abusing his position as a military officer to gain access to classified information.
He was freed from jail because he had served 20 months, more than half his sentence. But prosecutors demanded a treason conviction and Pasko himself appealed, fighting for full acquittal. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
Pyshkin accused the court Wednesday of repeatedly postponing the trial to dishearten Pasko. He said the court wanted to force Pasko to accept a light conviction that would allow prosecutors to save face while letting the journalist remain free.