Amsterdam (Oct. 17)
A Jew was recently sentenced to a 12-year prison term by a Czechoslovak court after being convicted of espionage on behalf of an unnamed country, it was revealed here today. The Jew, Dr. Hubert Stein, served as a civilian interpreter at the Netherlands Embassy in Prague. In the summer of 1970 he was arrested on the Austrian border, in spite of the fact that he had a perfectly valid Czech passport and an exit visa.
After being held incommunicado in a secret prison some distance from Prague, he was brought to trial behind closed doors and sentenced on July 9, 1971 to 12 years hard labor. Five other Czechoslovak citizens were jailed with him, but the 63-year-old Dr. Stein was the only Jew and the only one who was fully named. An appeal by the defendant was made immediately after his conviction and has now been rejected. The authorities refused to allow any contact with the defendant, either before or after his conviction.
HEAVIEST SENTENCE OF KIND
Although there was no hint in the two-line communique published by “Rude Pravo” of the country Dr. Stein was supposed to have served, political observers here pointed out that Dr. Stein had lived, during World War II, in Britain and returned to Czechoslovakia after the war. During the Slansky trial purges he was jailed and imprisoned for nine years. Later he was cleared, as were many others, by the former regime, which was replaced at the time of the Russian intervention of 1967.
This, these observers added, was the heaviest sentence passed in Czechoslovakia at a political trial since the Russian intervention. It is believed that the authorities wanted at first to use Dr. Stein for a show trial in order to intimidate any possible civilian unrest. But then a decision was taken to keep the trial secret and only the sentence and the barest facts of the case were revealed in a short item published in the official party daily “Rude Pravo.”