TEL AVIV (Dec. 1)
Soviet authorities have offered exit visas for Israel to the wives and families of nine Jews facing trial in Leningrad this month but were turned down because the wives refused to depart without their husbands, according to reports published here today. The information was attributed to a French tourist who arrived here after visiting Russia. He claimed that the wives, from Riga, Leningrad, Tiblisi and Kishinev, were summoned to the offices of the KGB, the Soviet secret police, where the offer was made. They were told they could take their children and other relatives and that their husbands would be permitted to join them after serving their expected sentences. The Jews were arrested last spring in connection with an alleged attempt to hijack a Soviet airliner at Leningrad Airport. A total of more than 30 Russian Jews reportedly have been arrested on those or related charges since then and are said to face trial. According to unconfirmed reports the first of the trials will open in Leningrad on Dec. 15. The general contention is that the charges were manufactured by the KGB and that the trials are intended solely to intimidate Russian Jews who have publicly demanded their right to emigrate. According to the newspaper Yediot Achronot. the French tourist said Russian Jews were living in a state of anxiety over the possible effects of the trials on Jewish life in the USSR.