The Harvard Jewish Law Students Association (HJLSA) will take the case of an imprisoned Soviet dissident to a national scientific organization in an attempt to pressure Russian authorities for his release.
Daniel M. Jaffe, head of the HJLSA's international affairs division, said yesterday he will travel to Chicago next Friday to present the case of Joseph S. Zissels to the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (AAPL).
Jaffee hopes that organization will decide to make an official protest to Russian authorities on Zissel's behalf.
"The Soviets are very concerned with scientific exchange and with their scientific presence in the com- munity, so to have a scientific group criticize them is significant," Jaffee said yesterday.
Jaffee and three other Harvard law students gained the attention of the AAPL by writing a legal brief which showed that Zissels' imprisonment was not only a violation of human rights, but also Soviet law.
Zissels was convicted in 1979 for "circulating fabrications, which he knew to be false, that defame the Soviet state and social system," Jaffe said yesterday.
The HJLSA group's legal brief showed that the Soviet prosecutors failed to prove, first, that Zissel believed the statements were false, and second, that the statements were false.
The President of AAPL, Dr. Nathan Sidley, said last night although he feels a "personal sense of outrage" about Zissel's case his organization may decide not to become involved in a political issue.
"On balance, through, I suppose it wouldn't do any harm to take a stand," he added.
Donna E. Arzt, a Harvard law graduate and general counsel for the Soviet Jewry Legal Advocacy Center, said the HJLSA's efforts afford Zissel protection, because Soviet authorities now know they cannot just make him disappear."
Alan M. Dershowitz, Professor of Law said the HJLSA "has a great potential for doing Mr. Zissel a lot of good. We have seen this in similar cases in the past."
Before his arrest, Zissel worked to help Jews emigrate to Israel and to assist dissidents who were tortured in psychiatric hospitals.
Since his arrest, Zissel has helped other Soviet prisoners petition for appeals. Russian authorities retaliated by placing Zissel in solitary confinement and subjecting him to physical torture, Jaffe said yesterday.