Originally created 09/08/01

Student will visit his family



AIKEN - A U.S. student recently freed from a Russian prison will be reunited with his grandfather in Aiken next week.

John E. "Jack" Tobin Jr., 24, the Fulbright scholar who was arrested in February and sentenced in late April on marijuana charges, was released Aug. 3.

Wednesday will be the first day Edward M. Carey Jr. will have seen his grandson since before he left for Russia in September 2000.

Mr. Tobin has several relatives in Aiken, but Mr. Carey said the stop in the area will be brief.

"As quick as we can get out of town, we're heading to Saskatchewan (Canada)," he said. "We're taking five dogs and meeting a friend to go hunting."

Waterfowl and grouse will be the game, he said.

Mr. Carey, a trainer of hunting dogs, has recently recovered from open-heart surgery.

He said he needs to get the final OK from his doctor in Chicago before he can go on the trip, but he says he feels fine and doesn't expect any change of plans.

Mr. Carey and numerous others in Mr. Tobin's family were active in pushing for his release. They said his marijuana charges were trumped up because he refused to spy for the Russian government.

Mr. Tobin served briefly in military intelligence in the Army before pursuing college.

But Mr. Tobin maintained throughout his arrest and imprisonment that his sole purpose in Russia was to study the changes in Russian society since the Cold War came to a close.

Political pressure from U.S. leaders and news interest generated from an anonymously administered Web site helped win Mr. Tobin's release.

Mr. Carey credited Rep. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Strom Thurmond among the local leaders who were steadfast in bringing his grandson, who lives in Connecticut, back home.

"Sen. Thurmond's office had a person assigned to Jack's case from start to finish," he said.

Reach Eric Williamson at (803) 648-1395 or eric@augusta.com.