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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Judge Nixes Cash Plea By Wife of Alleged Spy

A Moscow court on Wednesday threw out a woman's appeal that the FSB return half the cash seized during an espionage investigation that saw her husband charged with passing state secrets to American businessman Edmond Pope. The Meshchansky district court said her husband, Anatoly Babkin, had to first be tried to prove the money had been legally earned.

Galina Yashina, saying she desperately needed the money for an eye operation, asked the court for $5,300 of the $11,000 being held by the Federal Security Service. Her lawyer argued that she was entitled to the sum because, by law, each spouse owns half of the property acquired during marriage.

It is unclear how much money was seized in the search of the Babkin residence in 2000. In April 2000, the FSB accused Babkin, a professor at Moscow's elite Bauman State Technical University, of passing classified information on the Shkval torpedo to Pope and charged him with high treason.

Pope was convicted of espionage in December 2000 but pardoned by President Vladimir Putin a week later.

Yashina was at the hearing Wednesday with her husband, who is under house arrest.

Two FSB representatives -- tall, young men wearing black, ankle-length leather coats -- attended on behalf of the agency. Both refused to give their names to reporters.

"Under the law, an innocent person cannot be punished, and the FSB is punishing me," Yashina, 65, told the court, her eyes glistening with tears behind thick glasses. "I am almost blind and I have no money to pay for surgery."

She brought to the court bundles of receipts from the past 10 years to show that the money in question had come from legal sources.

One FSB representative argued that, under the Constitution, adult children must take care of their parents, and Yashina, having two sons, "has not exhausted all possible resources."

The other representative said that shortly after the money was seized, Babkin's older son had proven that $11,000 of it was his and had been given that amount.

The representatives conceded that Yashina may have rights to a portion of the confiscated cash but insisted that the amount could only be determined during Babkin's trial.

Babkin, who has complained of heart problems over the past two years, is currently reading thick folders documenting his case. His trial can start only after he finishes.

Babkin, his voice shaking and barely audible, asked the court Wednesday to grant his wife's request.

He also denied accepting any money from Pope and asked the court to disregard statements he made to the FSB implicating himself in high treason, saying investigators had pressured him to testify against himself.

Judge Yekaterina Senichkina then ruled the Babkin trial must be concluded before the court could make a decision about the money.

Yashina said she would appeal to the Moscow city court. "This court has chosen the easiest way -- not to go against the powerful FSB," said her lawyer, Andrei Andrusenko. "We are back in Stalinist times when people were persecuted for being family members of an [alleged] traitor."