Babkin's statement had been made under pressure

The lawyer for an American businessman on trial in Moscow for spying says the main prosecution witness has retracted his testimony against his client, Edmund Pope. The lawyer, Pavel Astakhov, said the witness, Anatoliy Babkin, had written to the court saying his statement had been made under pressure from the Russian secret service, BBC reports. He also stated that he had never met the accused in private nor had he disclosed any secret information. Mr Pope, who has bone cancer, was arrested in April and charged with gathering secret information on a new high-speed torpedo. He denies the charges and says the information he obtained was already in the public domain. The trial has strained relations with Washington which has repeatedly called for the release of Mr Pope on health grounds.

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