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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Judge Delays Pasko Trial, Bars Lawyer

A judge postponed the treason trial of navy Captain Grigory Pasko on Friday after booting one of the defense lawyers off the case for asking questions he deemed inappropriate, Interfax said.

Pasko, a military journalist with the Pacific Fleet newspaper, was arrested in November 1997 in the eastern port city of Vladivostok for allegedly giving secret documents about Russia's navy to Japanese media.

The judge postponed the trial until Feb. 8 after defense lawyer Karen Nersesian was warned repeatedly for questions he asked a witness from Japan's NHK television station, which employed Pasko part time when he was arrested, Interfax reported.

Nersesian asked if NHK had agreed to give incriminating evidence about Pasko to the Federal Security Service in exchange for the station's right to work in Russia unhindered.

The Federal Security Service, a successor to the KGB, has spearheaded the case against Pasko, saying he gave NHK documents that compromised state security. Pasko found evidence that the Pacific Fleet dumped nuclear waste into the Sea of Japan.

If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Defense lawyers say Pasko was arrested and charged in revenge for his exposures of the environmental damage inflicted by the fleet.

Pasko's case has drawn the attention of Russian and international human rights organizations and journalist groups, who say he was just doing his job, and that none of the information he used for his reports with NHK was classified.