American businessman Francis J. Crawford will be brought to trial Tuesday by Soviet authorities on charges of violating Soviet currency laws, Crawford said yesterday at a press conference in which new details of the allegations against him were disclosed.
Crawford, the portly 38-year-old Alabaman whose arrest and questioning by the KGB secret police is widely believed to be Kremlin retaliation for the . . . pending trial of two Soviets on spy charges in New Jersey, faces a maximum penalty of up to eight years in a labor camp.
He said the criminal indictment handed him yesterday by officials of the Moscow City Court names him as one of four codefendants in the currency case. The others are Soviets who apparently have turned the local equivalent of state's evidence and are expected to testify against him. They are a seamstress and her husband, Lucia and Volodya Kiselyova.
Crawford and his American legal adviser, University of Illinois law professor Peter Maggs, who have reviewed some 1,600 pages of state investigative materials this week, characterized Volodya Kiselyov as a previously convicted currency speculator who is accused of buying between $50,000 and $1000,000 from a variety of foreigners and Soviets. Crawford is alleged to have sold him $8,500 and received 2,000 rubles and six samovars in return.
Kiselyov appears to be Crawford's principal accuser. About 300 pages of the materials relate directly to Crawford, Maggs said. He added that the cashier, Alla Soloveyova, appeared to have a very peripheral role - if any - against Crowford.
The Americans said they were surprised and pleased when Soviet Court authorities allowed Maggs, 42, a Harvard Law School alumnus who speaks fluent Russian and is a specialist in Soviet law, to give such close insepction to the state files. Both said they saw it as a potentially positive sign in a case that has clear implications for the atmosphere of Soviet-American relations.
Maggs said, of the materials "I don't see anything in the evidence that makes me think he is guilty."
But both made it clear they are pessimistic about Crawford's chance for acquittal in what is commondly accepted here among the foreign diplomatic community as a case arranged by the Soviets to produce an American prisoner as a possible swap for the two Soviets whose navel espionage trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 12 in New Jersey.
Maggs refused to speculate on the trial's outcome, but added wryly that he thought an acquittal could be seen as "breaking some new ground" in Soviet jurisprudence.
At most, the two indicated, they hope for a conviction on a reduced charge and immediate expulsion, an outcome suggested last week by Armand Hammer, the American oilman who said he had spoken of the case with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev during a recent trip here. Hammer's speculation has fueled similar speculation within the American community, where there is hope the businessman's words were in fact a readable signal and not uninformed guesswork.
Maggs said he hoped to attend the trial, which be estimated could last as long as five days. He said he will not participate, but will advise Crawford at the end of each day's session. Crawford's state-appointed Soviet lawyer is Leonid Popov, said to be the same lawyer who unsuccessfully defended Alexander Filatov in July in a treason trial, the outcome of which was a death sentence.
Crawford and Maggs said the indictment given them yesterday contends that Crawford's illegal rubles were used by Harvester in its business operations here. It does not specify what denominations of bills Crawford allegedly sold, or any serial numbers.
Harvester is one of the more successful U.S. trading partners with the Soviets and its board chairman, Brooks McCormick, is a staunch supporter of U.S. Soviet trade as a way of improving bilateral relations.
The charge alleges that most of the illegal currency sales took place between February and May this year, arranged by Crawford by telephone from his room at the Intourist Hotel. He has been living there for his entire two years here as Harvester product manager, the number two man in the office.
Crawford said he met the Kiselyovs two years ago through Mark Weber, a graduate student working as a summer Harvester intern here, and Weber's friend, Larisa Formensova. Since then, he said, he has occasionally taken articles of clothing, such as suits and jackets, to Lucia Kiselyov for mending. He described her as a good seamstress in a country where such service can be awful.
He said each time he visited them, he took small gifts such as a tube of U.S.-made toothpaste, shaving cream, or hair lotion. They refused to take money for her work, he said. He added that he never gave them anything of greater value. He said he once saw several samovars and that Kiselyov that time "asked me if I'd like one of these." Crawford said he responded that he was no interested. He said he had no samovars in his room or his car when he was arrested the night of June 12 by Soviet police who dragged him from his car.
He said he saw the Kiselyovs only once during the time the charge alleges he made numerous money transaction.