USA calls on Moscow to release Pope on "humanitarian grounds"

The United States on Wednesday criticized a Russian court ruling against Edmond Pope and called on Moscow to release him on "humanitarian grounds" after the American was found guilty of espionage. "We are deeply disappointed by yesterday's verdict. Throughout this case we have seen no evidence that Mr. Pope violated any Russian laws," said White House National Security spokesman P.J. Crowley, after Pope was found guilty and sentenced to the maximum 20 years in prison, Reuters reports. "We remain very concerned that his (Pope's) health has deteriorated in recent days. We have been making clear to the Russian government that they should move to release Mr. Pope on humanitarian grounds," Crowley said. The spokesman added that President Bill Clinton has "raised this issue repeatedly with Russian President Vladimir Putin and is following the developments closely."