International Council of Lawyers to Work for the Release of All the Imprisoned Shcharanskys and Mand

Irwin Cotler, the attorney who represents Anatoly Shcharansky, South African prisoner Nelson Mandela, and various Soviet refuseniks, announced here Monday the establishment of an international council of lawyers who will “work relentlessly for the release of all the Shcharanskys and Mandelas now rotting in various prisons in the USSR and South Africa.”

Speaking at a news conference at McGill University, where he is a law professor, the day after his return from a week’s visit with Shcharansky in Israel, Cotler pledged to personally intervene with Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs Joe Clark to use the good offices of his government to obtain the immediate release of Mandela, as well as exit visas for refuseniks Ida Nudel, Yosef Begun and Viktor Brailovsky and their families, and other refuseniks, on humanitarian and family reunion grounds.

Cotler indicated that top priority would be given to the case of Nudel. “If there is one person who is more entitled to emigration on family reunion and humanitarian grounds it is Nudel,” he said. Nudel, reportedly in poor health, is currently living in the Moldavian town of Bendery following a four-year term of exile in a remote Siberian location. She has a sister, Ilana Friedman, in Tel Aviv.

Reviving speculation about another possible East-West prisoner-exchange deal, involving Mandela, Cotler suggested that the Canadian government act as an intermediary between the Soviet and South African governments to help bring this to fruition.

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