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Scientists Ask for Lerner’s Permit

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Hundreds of computer scientists meeting in Seattle this month for the Sixth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence appealed to Soviet authorities to allow their colleague, Prof. Alexander Lerner of Moscow, to emigrate, according to the Committee of Concerned Scientists.

Lerner, 73, a cyberneticist, is one of the longest-term refuseniks, first applying to emigrate in 1971. He was refused that year, and many times subsequently, on the basis of knowledge of “state secrets,” although prior to 1971 he had traveled to the West for scientific symposia with testimony by his highest supervisor to the KGB that Lerner was not privy to state secrets.

Lerner and his late wife Judith, who died in 1981, had two small daughters before World War II who were killed at Babi Yar with their grandparents. Lerner had taken the girls, ages three and five, to his native Vinnitsa in 1941 for vacation with their grandparents, two weeks before the German invasion on June 22.

After the war, the Lerners had two other children, Sonya and Vladimir. Vladimir is currently a Moscow refusenik and Sonya Lerner Levin lives in Rehovot, Israel. Lerner was among eight people cited earlier this year by the Soviets as never to be permitted to emigrate on grounds of “national security.” The petition on behalf of Lerner was circulated by Judea Pearl, a professor of computer science at UCLA and a member of the Committee of Concerned Scientists, an independent organization of 5,000 American scientists and engineers dedicated to scientific freedom and human rights of colleagues worldwide.

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