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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pope's Wife Hopes for Pardon This Week

The wife of convicted U.S. spy Edmond Pope said Wednesday she hoped President Vladimir Putin would pardon her husband this week, but said the former naval intelligence officer would feel "bitter-sweet" to leave Russia.

Putin has made clear he is ready to free Pope after a Moscow court sentenced him to 20 years in a maximum security prison for spying, increasing the strain on U.S.-Russia relations which had built during the eight-month long case.

Pope, 54, was the first Westerner convicted as a spy in Russia since the Cold War, but wife Cheri said she was praying he would be free to fly back to the U.S. with her after Thursday, the first day Putin can legally free the businessman.

"Our visas run out on Friday and I'm hoping and praying we can take him home with us," Cheri Pope told reporters. "My husband has great respect for the Russian people. I think he will feel very bitter-sweet.

"We had and do have a number of friends in Russia. I hope someday without endangering our friends we can definitely have contact again...I grew to love some of those people and I know they're out there for me now."

Putin's clemency board of leading public figures recommended Friday that Pope be released to see his terminally-ill father.



NEED TO SEE DOCTORS, FATHER

Pope, who is suffering cancer, was convicted of trying to obtain state secrets on a high-speed torpedo, although he said the information was already openly available.

He was repeatedly denied check-ups on his rare form of bone cancer, which was in remission when he arrived in Moscow.

Cheri Pope said her husband was in poor health.

"At the very least he's malnourished, he's very weak. And he has infections in his body. You don't get that grey pallor to your skin for no reason."

She said she did not care that a pardon would prevent an appeal to prove Pope's innocence, and just wanted to get him to hospital.

"I don't care how they let him go or what labels are attached to him or my family. I want him home and with the doctors...I don't care what they call him.

"I don't care if I have to swim home, we'll be out of here as fast as we can. First the doctors, then home to Oregon to see his father...he needs to hold his dad's hand one more time."

She said her family faced the task of readjusting to life together and paying off "astronomical" legal bills.

"Not only are there the health issues and isolation for eight months. What do we do from here, where do we go, how do we re-focus our lives?"

Cheri Pope said Pennsylvania congressman John Peterson's backing for her husband's case had been vital, adding: "Without wanting to sound trite, we believe we have angels surrounding us hourly that carry us through."