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Cheri Pope Travels to Russian Prison to Visit Husband Accused of Spying

Aired August 29, 2000 - 2:23 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: In Russia today, a visitor for an accused American spy.

CNN's Moscow bureau chief Jill Dougherty has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): At her Moscow hotel, Cheri Pope nervously prepares to see her husband, Edmund, for just the second time in almost five months. Inside the former KGB prison, where the American businessman is being held on spying charges, Cheri clutches a bag of medicine she hopes to give her husband. Back in the U.S., he was treated for a rare form of cancer now in remission. But she says he needs regular medical monitoring.

CHERYL POPE, WIFE: I saw my husband and he's very weak and he's very fragile.

DOUGHERTY: On April 3 of this year, agents of the FSB, the former KGB, arrested Edmund Pope in his hotel room. He's accused of trying to buy secret design information on a super-fast, silent torpedo called the Squall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He made contacts with scientists, engineers and specialists who had secret information about the weapon and helped design it. He got charts and reports and paid money for them.

DOUGHERTY: Pope owns a Pennsylvania consulting firm that openly purchases marine technology from Russia. His lawyer denies Pope is a spy.

PAVEL ASTAKHOV, POPE'S ATTORNEY (through translator): None of the materials that Mr. Pope obtained here were marked "secret," so he was convinced he was getting absolutely open, not secret material.

DOUGHERTY (on camera): The case has reached the highest political level, U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Vladimir Putin have discussed it.

RICHARD BOUCHER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We've seen no evidence that Mr. Pope has violated any Russian laws, and we're both disturbed and concerned that he remains in custody. DOUGHERTY (voice-over): Cheri Pope knows her husband could be facing 20 years in prison, but for now, a recurrence of cancer is what she's worried about.

C. POPE: We're very concerned because he's showing signs of it having possibly returned. He has headaches in one of the -- bad headaches that are in the -- right in the top of his spine, which is very frightening.

DOUGHERTY: Cheri Pope has asked that a U.S. doctor examine her husband or hospitalize him in Moscow for cancer testing. Russian authorities claim their prison doctors are sufficient.

Jill Dougherty, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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