WASHINGTON (Jul. 10)
A group of distinguished American scientists have urged the Soviet Union to permit Prof. Benjamin Levich, the Moscow Jewish activist, world-renowned electro-chemist and member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, to attend a scientific conference being held in his honor at Oxford University in England this week. At a news conference held Friday, under the auspices of the Committee of Concerned Scientists, Nobel Laureate Julius Axelrod said he would refuse invitations to visit the USSR unless Levich was permitted to attend conference or to emigrate.
Axelrod, who received the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1970, urged scientific organizations to refrain from holding meetings in the Soviet Union until the USSR “exhibits a willingness to live up to the principles of free scientific exchange.” He termed Levich’s predicament “not only a violation of scientific freedom but of fundamental human rights”.
Another participant at the conference, Dr. Robert Adelstein, noted that “since filing his application for permission to emigrate Levich has suffered innumerable harassments in both his professional and personal life.
According to Adelstein, Levich has not been permitted to publish his research, give lectures or attend scientific conferences. Levich has also been subjected to lengthy and threatening interrogation by the KGB, he added.
Levich is reportedly being detained on the grounds that he was privy to state secrets until 1950. A special commission of the Soviet Academy of Sciences has since concluded that such information is obsolete. In a letter released at the conference, Levich appealed to his Western colleagues not to “get discouraged” and said: “I and others like me derive our strength from your genuine concern and your unremitting support.”