International Law: Helping Prisoners of Conscience

A group of British students who toured Moscow in 1964 remember their interpreter, Zhenya Belov, as a dedicated Communist who lambasted them for "political ignorance." Last summer Belov showed his own political ignorance by writing Comrades Brezhnev and Kosygin, suggesting they democratize their regime. He was adjudged insane, put in an asylum and—the Soviet bosses hoped—forgotten forever.

Far from forgotten, Belov has since become one of 1,200 priority cases in the files of Amnesty International, a London-based organization, founded in 1961, that aims to set free "prisoners of conscience," no matter how obscure, if they have been locked up for...