U.S. Defector Acts Mentally Disturbed, Shaken Father Says

From Associated Press

Houston cancer researcher Arnold Lockshin, who defected to the Soviet Union saying he was fleeing political persecution in the United States, “must be mentally disturbed,” his father said in a report published today.

The 78-year-old Leo Lockshin did say, however, that the U.S. government once cut funding to his son’s cancer research unit when Arnold Lockshin was actively protesting the Vietnam War.

“I am shocked. I am shaking like a leaf,” the father said in Richmond, Calif. He said his family fled the Soviet Union three generations ago to escape persecution of Jews.


Lockshin said he had not spoken with his son in about three months because their relationship was strained over a debt.

Arnold Lockshin’s story was widely publicized in Soviet newspapers today.

Five Soviet national newspapers and the Moscow daily Moskovskaya Pravda printed a Tass interview with Lockshin, headlining it “I Chose Freedom.” Three of them carried pictures showing the family against a backdrop of Red Square.

Propaganda Tool

The publicity was similar to that given Americans who defected in the 1960s because of their opposition to the Vietnam War. Its timing, right before the superpower summit in Iceland, gives the Soviets a propaganda tool to counter Western allegations about Soviet human rights abuses.

But Arnold Lockshin, 47, when contacted at his Moscow hotel by the Associated Press, said he did not want to talk.

“Today is a day of getting ourselves put together,” Lockshin said. “I don’t want to say anything at this point right now.”

Lockshin’s defection with his wife, Loreen, and three children--Jennifer, 15; Jeffrey, about 12, and Michael, 5--became known Wednesday when Tass broke the news. (Story on Page 13.)


He said in the interview that he has many acquaintances among Soviet scientists and hopes they will be able to help him find work. He said his family will be able to lead “a normal, productive life” in the Soviet Union.

Lockshin’s father told the San Francisco Chronicle that when Arnold opposed the Vietnam War at Harvard in the 1960s, the federal government cut off cancer research funds to his unit.

‘Very Brilliant’

“Scientifically, he is very brilliant,” Leo Lockshin said. He described Arnold as only “mildly liberal” politically.

Margery Heffron, a spokeswoman for Harvard, said there is no record of an Arnold Lockshin in the medical school’s appointment records dating to 1910.

The elder Lockshin said his daughter told him last year that “there is something terribly wrong with Arnold and I don’t know what it is.”

“He must be mentally disturbed, that’s all,” he said.

“He never told me a single thing about this,” the father said. “I was in the Soviet Union for three weeks last year. I speak fluent Russian, and I couldn’t adapt to the life there.


“He’ll find out he didn’t go to California. Moscow is a very, very different place. That’s for sure. And Russian is a very difficult language. I wish him well, but I certainly wouldn’t leave this country.”