NEW YORK (Dec. 20)
After a four-hour trial in Moscow Wednesday, Yuli Edelstein was convicted of allegedly “possessing drugs,” and sentenced to three years in a labor camp, the National Conference on Soviet Jewry reported. Only his mother and his wife, Tanya, were permitted inside the courtroom during the trial.
Edelstein, a Hebrew teacher who had long been warned by the KGB to end his teaching activities, was arrested on September 4, after a house search in which Hebrew books and a small container were confiscated. Following the search, Soviet authorities claimed to have found drugs in the container, and claimed that Edelstein was involved with “foreigners who corrupt Jewish youth with medieval and mystical drug rituals.”
Since his arrest, allegations that link Judaism with drug use were repeated, and religious articles were confiscated and torn apart in several house searches conducted under the guise of looking for drugs.
Edelstein, who has been on a hunger strike since December 1, and his wife repeatedly denied the charge against him, and maintained the drugs were planted in his apartment during the search to provide the grounds for his arrest. He is one of six Soviet Jewish Hebrew teachers and cultural activists arrested since July in a Soviet campaign seemingly intended to eliminate Jewish educational and religious activity.