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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lawmakers Appeal Pasko Conviction

Prominent lawmakers and activists appealed to the Supreme Court chairman Wednesday to reconsider a treason conviction against Grigory Pasko, a military journalist whose case has angered international media freedom groups.

The appeal, organized by Yabloko, denounced a ruling last month by the Supreme Court's military wing that upheld the verdict against Pasko.

The journalist was sentenced to four years in prison in December by a military court in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok for attending a meeting of naval commanders and taking notes while there. The court said his intent was to pass the notes to Japanese media, with whom he had worked.

On Wednesday, the lawmakers and activists asked Supreme Court chairman Vyacheslav Lebedev to protest the military wing's ruling and consider the case in the court's presidium, its highest body. Pasko's lawyers have said they would appeal the June ruling to higher levels at the court. "The ruling of the Military Board cannot be called the result of objective consideration of Pasko's case by an independent and unbiased court," the letter reads. "We are urgently requesting you to protest this ruling and ... on these grounds consider this case at the presidium of the Supreme Court."

The letter was signed by Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky; the head of the Union of Right Forces party, Boris Nemtsov; the head of the media freedom monitoring group Glasnost Defense Fund, Alexei Simonov; Lev Ponomaryov, head of the All-Russian Movement for Human Rights; and other prominent figures.

Pasko has called the case retaliation for his reports uncovering alleged environmental abuses by the navy, such as dumping of radioactive waste into the Sea of Japan.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has called Pasko's conviction unjust and embarrassing to Russia, and Western countries have criticized it as part of an apparent wider crackdown on media freedom.