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U.S. pastor jailed in Russia for bribery

YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, Russia, July 17 (UPI) -- A Federal Security Service branch in Russia said Friday a U.S. pastor has been sentenced to 18 months in jail after being convicted on bribery charges.

The press service of a local FSB branch -- FSB is the Russian acronym -- on Russia's Sakhalin Island said Hio Sun Pak of the Blagodat (Grace) church was sentenced by Kholmsk city court on charges he attempted to bribe an immigration official, ITAR-TASS reported.

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The 65-year-old U.S. citizen and Pentecostal pastor was initially arrested and imprisoned on charges he and an unidentified interpreter attempted to bribe an immigration official in July 2007.

Authorities accused Pak of trying to bribe the official with $10,000 in an attempt to end an investigation into the construction of a Blagodat church in Kholmsk.

ITAR-TASS said the investigation was into allegations illegal Chinese labor migrants were being used to construct the religious site.

The interpreter in the case received a 16-month jail sentence and two years of probation.

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