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September 12, 2016 - More questioning
Monday afternoon at 3:15, I got a call from a policeman.
"Hello, this is the police. Where are you?"
"Why do you need to know where I am?"
"We want to come over and ask a few questions."
"I have already answered a lot of questions. I was charged, convicted, and am waiting for an appeal hearing next Monday. I don't want to answer any more questions now."
"Where are you?"
"I don't want to tell you where I am. If you have a question, just ask, and I will answer over the phone."
"No, we can't do that. We need to come over and ask you a few questions."
"No thank you. I'm not telling you where I am, and I don't wish to talk to you now."
"Well, if you don't tell us where you are, then we will send out officers to look for you, and we will bring you in for questions."
"Is this related to the charges that were already brought against me?"
"Yes, about your religious activities."
"I would rather wait until the appeal hearing is over."
"No, we need to ask questions, and we will look for you if you don't tell us where you are."
Well, I didn't think it would be very hard for them to find me, so I offered to come down to the station and talk to them. They said it would only take about 10 minutes.
I called my lawyer, and sent him an email, telling him exactly where I was going and that they had ordered me to answer questions. He told me what to say, and gave me information about my constitutional rights.
I went down to the station, and three men were standing out front waiting for me. They were friendly, and we went to an office on the fourth floor. They said that they were investigators on the anti-extremism task force. The other policemen had responded to a complaint against me, but these guys wanted to know about what I was doing so that they would have a packet of information for the purposes of their duty to monitor potential foreign extremist activity.
I told them how the other policemen had lied to me, and charged me with a crime after telling me that there were no complaints against me. These policemen said, yes, we lie sometimes, but this time we are not planning to charge you with anything, we just need to ask questions.
It was actually a very friendly meeting. They asked a lot of questions about life in America, and it was obvious that each of them wished he could visit America someday. The interview lasted about an hour and a half, and I didn't say anything that was not already on the record. I showed them my American passport, which was redesigned a few years ago. It is a very beautiful document now with scenic pictures of America. They took turns looking at it, and they just loved it. One guy said, "Look, here is Mount Rushmore! I have always dreamed of going there to see that." Another said, "Look at these tall cactus - that must be Texas." "Look at the palm trees - that must be Hawaii".
So, I told them how we study the Bible in our house, and how we learn the way of salvation through Jesus Christ. They asked me what Bible I use, and I explained that we use the same Bible the Orthodox church uses. They opened a cabinet and brought out a Bible and two New Testaments that they had apparently confiscated or collected in previous investigations. The two New Testaments were from me - they were surprised when I showed them a sticker inside with my name on it. They asked me if I use the Jehovah's witness bible, and I explained why we don't.
A few times during the interview, my lawyer called to see how things were going. I made it clear to the police that I was talking to my lawyer in Moscow, and I made comments like, "They told me this was only going to last 10 minutes, but we have been here for almost an hour already."
The police made some notes and printed a report with a one paragraph summary of our interview, which they wanted me to sign. I called my lawyer and read the report to him. He told me to cross out about half of it, and then he dictated about two paragraphs for me to write on the report, explaining my rights under the law and the constitution. It ended by saying that I was planning to file harassment charges against the local authorities for intimidation and interfering with my rights.
I signed the paper and they told me I could go. When I was back out on the street at about 5:15, I called the lawyer and said, "We are finished with the questions, they released me, and I am free." He laughed and said, "Don't worry. They are the ones who need to worry."
Maybe they were trying to get me to say something that they could use against me in court. I don't think they got anything.
I am not scared, but I am trying to be very aware and careful. I don't go out very much. I have a lot of things to do getting our apartment ready to sell, and sorting out our stuff for a sale. I am getting a little bit suspicious when I go out, looking around to see if I am followed. I switch directions and backtrack my path sometimes. On my way home from the police station, I walked in one door of the Atoll shopping center, and out the other door, then went back in and went upstairs and down another stairs and back around the other side. When I got home, I got in the elevator, and two great big burly rough looking men got in with me. That hardly ever happens. I put my house keys in my fist so I could scrape them up pretty good if they started to beat me. They just got out on the fifth floor, and I went on to the sixth. I don't call a taxi very much when I do go out, since that would be easier to track. I ride buses or walk most of the time.
The appeal hearing is Monday. We will see what happens after that.