Ed Pope was a U.S. businessman arrested in Russia in April of 2000 and convicted of espionage, thus becoming the first American so charged and convicted since Francis Gary Powers in 1960. After retiring from the U.S. Navy in 1994, Pope had worked at the Penn State Applied Research Lab (ARL), for about three years before leaving there to establish his own private business. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ed had been focusing on cooperative business development in science and technology areas for the U.S. Navy, PSU/ARL and others.
His book Torpedoed describes his arrest, confinement, trial, and pardon by the Russian Government under Vladimir Putin. He identifies changes in Vladimir Putin’s Russia as the reason for his arrest and other significant, yet subtle, policy changes that took place with the election of Putin as Russia’s new president on 26 March 2000.
The first chapter is riveting as Ed Pope describes the arrest by the FSB (formerly KGB) Russian police. The book also notes that Pope was accompanied by a Penn State Applied Research Laboratory scientist who was interested in the Shkval, which is a Russian underwater rocket capable of high underwater speeds. Both were taken into custody by the FSB in Pope’s apartment. Pope was under contract to ARL as a consultant when arrested. The Penn State scientist was released the next morning and flew back to the U.S. Pope was kept in a cell with other Russian prisoners and interrogated almost daily. The prison cell was harsh quarters with poor food. Pope is the only American ever to be held at the FSB/KGB’s infamous Lefortovo Prison; Gary Powers was actually held at another location.
The book provides a full background of Pope’s career up to present. Some details are given about the interrogation procedures and the trial. Additional information is provided at his web site at http://www.edmondpope.com. The book describes the trial as a Kangaroo court, where Pope and his lawyers were not allowed to present many of their objections, evidence or clarifications.
Pope notes that there were many changes in Russian security procedures from the relatively open dialogue under Yeltsin to a more closed society under Putin. Pope had wider access and formal government approval to Russian technology when Yeltsin was the President. He tried to find technologies that Russians and Americans could work on together for mutual benefit of their respective countries in the commercial sphere. For example, Pope would bring lightweight Titanium bicycle frames back from Russia to attempt to interest bicycle manufacturers in the U.S. Earlier, when he was on active duty at the Office of Naval Research, he headed a Science Opportunities Program which led to a cooperative project between the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences and the Penn State University. He would invite Russians to visit the U.S. to help them find projects of mutual benefit to both the U.S. and Russia. Pope bad entertained many of these Russian scientists at his home. As a neighbor, I was often invited there to socialize with them.
The book also describes the many complications encountered and efforts made by the U.S. to have Pope released. Many influential people were involved, including former President Clinton, U.S. Congressman John Peterson, Senators, other Congressmen, many Navy retired friends working behind the scenes and others. A strong driving force to release Pope came from his wife, Cheri, who enlisted many of our government officials and the news media to try to secure Pope’s release. Cheri is a very quiet person who rose to the occasion to free her husband.
Pope contends that the information he was seeking was being sold openly on the world market by the Russians. He also states in the book that some of the principles of fluid dynamic technology that the Russians used in the Shkval were initially investigated in ARL’s Water Tunnel in 1964 in a study on Underwater Missile Propulsion. Following his conviction in the trial, he was pardoned by President Putin and allowed to return to the U.S. after spending a total of 253 days in captivity.
Torpedoed is available at most large book stores; Barnes and Noble, Dalton’s, Powell’s, Borders, etc. The book can also be purchased online from numerous book sellers. One can also connect to these by a visit to Ed Pope’s web site for a link directly to an online bookseller. The price is about $26