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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pope Stays Behind Bars Despite Illness

A Moscow court ruled Tuesday that Edmond Pope, a U.S. citizen accused of spying, must remain behind bars pending his trial despite suffering from a rare form of bone cancer.

The court ruled that Pope, a retired navy intelligence officer, must stay in jail because espionage was one of the most serious charges on the books. Lawyers say they expect his trial to begin next month.

Speaking to reporters from behind bars in a holding pen in the courtroom, Pope repeated that he was innocent and said he was not receiving proper medical care.

"The nature of my cancer means that the longer I am here, the greater the danger of a problem," said Pope, who is being held in Lefortovo Prison.

Looking haggard, Pope said that morally he was disappointed by the ruling but, physically, his condition was not too bad.

The Federal Security Service, or FSB, said Pope was well enough to remain in custody. It said cancer specialists had examined him Thursday and "nothing indicating his disease is progressing was found."

Pope, 54, is accused by the FSB of gathering intelligence about a torpedo. U.S. officials say Pope had tried to buy 10-year-old underwater propulsion technology that Canada had since bought.

John Peterson, a U.S. congressman who accompanied Pope’s wife, Cheryl, on a recent Moscow visit, said by phone from Washington that the court’s decision was inhumane.

"At the very least, the court could have … let our medical experts take a good look at him. That is not much to ask of any country," the Republican congressman from Pennsylvania said.

Reuters, AP