Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev has indicated that U.S. businessman Francis J. Crawford, accused in Moscow of currency speculation, is likely to be sent home from the Soviet Union, according to Occidental Petroleum Chairman Armand Hammer, who met with Brezhnev for three hours on Friday.
"I told him that business[WORD ILLEGIBLE] were disturbed by the Crawford case." Hammer told reporters here yesterday. "He said there had to be a trial because they had what they thought was sufficient evidence against him. However, I got the impression that the sentence would be a light one and that most likely he'd be asked to leave the country."
Crawford, an International Harvester representative, said Friday that he expected to be put on trial "in the very near future."
Crawford and others have linked his prosecution with the espionage charges against two Soviet diplomats in New Jersey, but Hammer did not say whether he discussed those cases with Brezhnev.
Hammer, a pioneer in U.S. trade and investment links with the Soviet Union, met with Brezhnev near the Soviet president's summer home on the Black Sea.
"I found him in excellent health," Hammer said, without being asked about Brezhnev's appearance. "I've never seen him looking better. He said he swims a mile in the ocean every day."
Hammer said he perceived no change in Brezhnev's health since their last meeting in October, 1976.
"He was in fine shape -- looking healthy," Hammer said. "Over the years, I don't think I've ever seen him looking more fit."
In their three hours of talks followed by a light dinner, Hammer said he and Brezhnev talked mostly of Occidental's operations in the Soviet Union. Hammer earlier this week attended the opening of a chemical storage terminal at the Black Sea port of Grigoryevka. The terminal wss built as part of a $20 billion contract for the exchange of Soviet ammonia and American super-phosphate.
The subjects of human rights and recent trials of Soviet dissidents were not mentioned, Hammer said.
However, Brezhnev warned that "economic blockades against Russia had been tried before" and hadn't worked, Hammer said. If the Soviet Union couldn't buy from the United States, it would buy elsewhere, Brezhnev was quoted as saying.
Asked if Brezhnev had given him any message for President Carter, Hammer said:
"The best message -- the most important one -- is that he would be happy to meet Carter and looks forward to meeting him."
The indications are that this is dependent on successful completion of strategic arms limitation negotiations, but Hammer said that Brezhnev considers that these are progressing satisfactorily.
"If the two men meet and they trust each other, I think maybe we could see a turning point in relations between the two countries," Hammer said, otherwise he said he sees the United States and Soviet Union on a collision course.