Circling the Lion's Den

Edmond Pope: They were giving me poison

  


Pope arrested by FSB

Andrey Soldatov / Published in Versia /

As soon as US failed secret agent returns home he becomes a part of the propaganda machine. He earns his living by writing books and giving lectures all over the country. It looks more like a triumph and encourages those who are going to follow him. Read the interview with Edmond Pope.

Can you write me, what are you doing now, after return to USA. Where do you work?  How is your family?

I am engaged in many things now in life that I did not ever expect, after the ordeal in Russia now close to three years ago. I live in the same town, State College, Pennsylvania, where I previously lived. I now have three grandchildren from one of my two sons and his wife. They also live here so I have great pleasure enjoying them in my life, as well as my wife. 

  

Early in my return from Russia, I spent a great deal of time in hospital. I will talk more on that in other question. I also spent very much time in first year working on book TORPEDOED. I eventually began doing other more normal things and now I spend most of my time working on several new business ventures mostly in high technology field, doing work with The Centre for Counterintelligence Studies (CICENTRE.COM) where I am a professor, and working on a new home. My work keeps me very busy and I travel a great deal so I am absent from my home about half of time. Most of my travel involves work in Washington DC area, which is about four hours drive away, working at CICENTRE and in business development activities. I also do many public speaking events here in area and elsewhere in country, talking about events of three years ago and current. While my book was published two years ago, I have learned many new things since that time. 

My family is all fine now and more or less living normal lives. My wife has changed focus after events of three years ago. She recently has completed course of study and is now fully certified as a Registered Nurse. She works in one of the best hospitals in US and is very happy with her work.

Do you have the support from US government - moral, financial?

I have had strong support to help upon return from ordeal in Russia.First, the US Army hospital in Ramstien, Germany took excellent care ofme for first two days after departure from Russia. They took many testsand showed me all results and then doctors discussed in detail. Theygave me some medications and all records. They found no emergencysituations so allowed me to continue travel on to US. I will talk aboutother medical care when I answer your question number 4. US government helped with travel arrangements to US and helped me travel directly to US West Coast state of Oregon where my father was gravely ill. He wasin coma when my wife and I arrived but at one point in the five daysthere, he did recognize me and my wife and began to cry. Two months after my return he died and I was lucky to be there with my mother atthat time.

I had much sympathy from various US government offices upon my return. Many people and government organizations expressed concern and told me that initially when I was arrested they were all confused and thought I was perhaps some kind of criminal. They then began to understand that entire situation was connected to 26 March 2000 election of Vladimir V. Putin as president of Russian Federation and that this energized his former hard line comrades in FSB/KGB and elsewhere in Russia. Eventually, US government saw what was happening and knew I was not spy so they began to actively help. I continue to have strong moral support from many people and organizations in government. I do not have any financial direct support.

Only one organization I presently work for has US government contracts and that is The Centre for Counterintelligence Studies (CICENRE.COM). As a professor with CICENTRE, I teach several classes and give various lectures. We teach to US government personnel but also to private companies which send personnel overseas for travel and work. I talk not only about what happened in Russia but also teach other classes.

I've heard you have health problem in Russia. Did you get the medical help?

This is very complicated but I will try to provide short and simple answer. I have a history of development of very serious form of cancer in 1985. Since that time and an operation, the cancer remained dormant. During entrapment in Lefortovo, I became very seriously ill at one point.

Symptoms as I understood were very much like earlier cancer. During this time in Lefortovo, I lost close to 20 kilos in only three weeks and became extremely weak and delirious. I believed that cancer had returned and that I was close to death. My family and US Congressman John Peterson also learned of this illness and consulted specialists in US. They also believed cancer was returned and I would die in short order inside Lefortovo. Truth now that I have learned from various sources is that personnel inside Lefortovo were giving me poison in food. Exact amount of money they wanted and reasons are still not exactly determined. I am very lucky that US government learned of this and put pressure on V.V. Putin and my life was spared.

After check in Germany and then many months of checks at Bethesda Naval Hospital (US Navy hospital also where President of US receives medical attention), I am  now declared free of cancer for time being. I did have three operations to remove other forms of cancer, but most serious form which I had experienced in 1985 did not return. After over two years, Bethesda Hospital now says I am safe to resume more or less normal life.

I have also received great amount of treatment for problems with teeth at Bethesda Hospital. I did not recieve any direct beating insideLefortovo, however, in addition to poison in food, I also suffered problems with teeth. One trick they play in Lefortovo is to place rocks/stones in porridge(qasha). It was strange that, as far as I remember, I am only one in cell to find stones in my qasha. In any case, when you eat food and do not expect anything in the meal but soft substance, a stone can shatter teeth. I seriously damaged six teeth in this manner. Afterwards, at Bethesda Hospital, they had to remove completely five teeth and conduct extensive repairs to eighteen teeth. This was not enjoyable, however, it was much more comfortable than one day inside Lefortovo.

I think many people in Russia would like to read you book. What do you think, why your book Torpedoed didnt translate and publish in Russia? 

My book is currently being translated and printed. I will try to find Russian printing house name and address for you soon.

  

Did you read the book of FSB officer Stavicky "Spyadventures of Edmond Pope in Russia?" What do you think about it?

I have bought and had a friend translate book by Vasiliy Stavitsky. It is a great book of fantasy and propaganda from worst days of Cold War. 

Most of my friends agree that Stavitsky book makes great material to spread in bottom of bird cage.

Truth is that his book contains very small degree of truth but is mostly propaganda and very boring material. The book has helped few people who were confused by my arrest to fully understand the mindset and reasons for event. They now know that much of old KGB thinking has returned.

I remember seeing Stavitsky inside Lefortovo at least three times. He was lurking in a doorway but would not speak. Much of his "book" is direct quotes from newspaper articles that were printed during early days of my detention. No doubt he is one who wrote them and then later copied same into his book. Several interrogation officers of FSB suggested I write book and made numerous suggestions to me for chapters. They did not tell me that they were also writing a book that would be published before mine. One of them did bring copies of some Russian newspaper articles and told me that articles had been written by FSB.

What do you think your activity (in USA) is still interesting for Russian secret services?

I believe that FSB/SVR will never forget my name and will be looking for any activities or comments from me. I am not sure that they actively follow me but it would not surprise me. As an example, I recently attended a technical conference in California. I had noticed on the printed agenda that several Russian's from Academy of Sciences were scheduled to be attending and speaking at the conference. Upon arriving, I was surprised to learn that all the Russian attendees failed to arrive for conference. I had known some of these people or their institutes during my previous work in Russia. I did meet several scientists from Ukraine and other former republics of Soviet Union. 

They were all very open and friendly toward me; many expressed great interest in what had happened and even more of them expressed their disgust with Russian secret services and their brutal tactics in controlling society.

FSB does know that I am a professor with CI Centre. FSB also has other "enemies" who work at CI Centre, such as former KGB Major General Oleg Kalugin and others. In FSB mindset, there is no doubt they consider the CI Centre part of CIA. This is utter stupidity but this is way FSB thinks.

In my many speaking events, with CI Centre and elsewhere, I am careful to distinguish my disgust of FSB and Putin -hardliners with the many Russian friends I have and my admiration and respect for the Russian people. American and Russian people have far too many things in common to ever be enemies. Suspicion and fear will continue however as long as we have people in power and organizations like FSB with mindset to keep our people apart and create barriers between us.

Even within FSB, I do know that many do not believe in their mission. Years ago, I met Russian FSB officers who were in administrative positions at scientific institutes. I watched with great interest as some of these individuals became open and embraced a new way that involved legitimate business and the pursuit of a better way of life for them and their families. I often wonder how these people are fairing now that things are changed after 26 March 2000 election of V.V. Putin and the resurgence of control by FSB.

What do you think was the main reason of your "spy case"?

  

There is absolutely no doubt that reason for my "spy case" was political motivation on part of FSB and hardliners in Putin's government. Officers of FSB in Lefortovo openly bragged of this during my stay. They showed me document dated 28 March 2000 (a Monday and first day after election of V.V. Putin on 26 March 2000) that authorized my arrest. Several people inside Lefortovo also told me "do not that this situation personally . . . . you will be out of here soon and back home." There were many other things various people in Lefortovo told me to try and assure me that situation was not focused on me but was a political situation. Many of these things now appear humorous but certainly were not funny at the time. Shortly after my book came out, a review was sent in from Moscow. It was very obvious to all here that the writer was inside FSB, probably V. Stavitskiy. This review made strong point that almost all visitors from West to Russia were nothing but spies sent to steal all treasures and that FSB knows all this.

I watched years before my arrest as KGB then FSB arrested westerners working in Russia and made charges of "spying." Most of these numerous individuals were held for one to four weeks and then released, but only after pressure from Yeltsin officials. FSB and other hardliners grew very resentful of government control over them. Again, once they saw their former chief V.V. Putin was elected president, they exploded with vigor. Since my highly publicized event, several other westerners have been arrested, threatened or otherwise chased from Russia by FSB and/or mafia. Most Russians but very few Americans understand that great percentage of Russian mafia is composed of former KGB officers who were fired under Yeltsin restructuring. This group also is very resentful of Yeltsin changes that took away much of their power to brutalize people. They now can achieve much of this same power in positions in mafia. I also witnessed cooperation between FSB officials and their former colleagues of KGB days, now in mafia, during my ordeal in Lefortovo.

What do you think about Babkin's process?

Very simple: Anatoly Ivanovich Babkin is totally innocent man!! His sentence clearly shows this. If he was guilty of any crime, there is no way FSB judge would have suspended any part of it. I would like to work with Russian scientific community in any way possible to help exonerate A. I Babkin from injustice.
He and I and others involved all followed Russian Federation regulations. We were working closely with Ministry of Defense officials. Indeed, on day of arrest and only minutes before monkeys from FSB stormed in, we had discussed situation of our cooperation and decided that we were not entirely sure of all restrictions and complications. We determined therefore that we would halt any further specific work until we discussed and obtained full approval of MoD officials. FSB has this on film but I am certain they will never admit or show that film.