amnesty international news release



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November 17, 1975







At a press conference in San Francisco on Monday, November 17th, Nobel Laureates Owen Chamberlain (Physics, 1959), Robert Hofstadter (Physics, 1961) and Emillo Segre (Physics, 1959) placed a call to Moscow to Andrei Sakharov to focus attention on the denial by the Soviet Government of his travel application to go to Oslo on December 10th to receive his Nobel Peace Prize. The Laureates and their colleagues who were unable to attend sent a cable urging the Soviet Government to reconsider their decision.

Sakharov¹s application was denied according to the Soviet chief of the Department of Visas and Registration because he possesses "a knowledge of state secrets." The national security aspect is invoke frequently in denying Soviet citizens permission to travel abroad or to emigrate.

"I look on the trip to Oslo as my duty," explained Sakharov last week. "It's a highly responsible and very difficult trip for me, but I believe I should insist on it and should insist on certain guarantees for my return.

"The solution of this question has great significance for the defense of free convictions, the defense of the principles that were adopted at the conference in Helsinki, Finland, to which the signatures of Soviet representatives were affixed."

At Helsinki in July, 35 nations signed a European security document that included a pledge by its signers "to facilitate freer movement and contacts, individually and collectively, whether privately or officially" and to "respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.²

Three weeks ago in Moscow, Sakharov asked Regina Bublil, Executive Director of the Bay Area Council on Soviet Jewry (BASJ) to appeal to his fellow Nobel Laureates to support him in his insistence that the decision be changed if his application was denied. He reaffirmed this request on Saturday, November 15 with Mr. Edward Kline of New York in a telephone conversation. Mr. Kline is a member of the Board of Amnesty International.

Amnesty International (AT), a highly respected international organization dedicated to the freedom of prisoners of conscience, joins the BASJ in bringing the Bay Area Nobel Laureates together. This conference coincides with the release by Amnesty International Secretariat in London of the illustrated report, ''Prisoners of Conscience in the USSR: Their Treatment and Conditions,² showing how many of the legal and penal abuses are directed particularly against political and religious dissenters in the Soviet Union.

The report, one of the most detailed Amnesty International has ever produced on violations of human rights in a single country, is being published simultaneously in English, Dutch, German, French and Swedish.

Also appearing at the press conference was Victor Sokolov and his wife Barbara. Mr. Sokolov, 28, a dissident writer from Moscow, moved to the Bay Area a week ago with his wife, an American graduate in Russian History from U.C. , Santa Cruz. Sokolov met with Sakharov on October 25th. Sokolov also was a member of the Amnesty International group in Moscow, two of whose members, DR. SERGEI KOVALYOV and group secretary ANDREI TVERDOKHLEBOV, are presently in detention in Moscow.

The publication of the report is especially appropriate today as the day after SAKHAROV won the Nobel Peace Prize, SAKHAROV expressed concern that the West at times paid too little attention to the plight of Soviet political prisoners.

Joining Drs. Chamberlain, Hofstadter, and Segre in their cable and support of SAKHAROV's request to travel to Oslo are:


Dr. Felix Bloch, 1952, Physics

Dr. Arthur Kornberg, 1959, Bio-Chemistry

Dr. Salvador Luria, 1969, Medicine

Dr. Donald A. Glaser, 1960, Physics

Dr. Edwin M. McMillan, 1951, Chemistry

Dr. Charles H. Townes, 1964, Physics