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John W. Powell | Sedition defendant, 89

John W. Powell, 89, a journalist tried for sedition for writing 1950s articles claiming the United States had used biological weapons in North Korea, died at a San Francisco hospital Monday of complications from pneumonia, according to his son Thomas Powell.

The highly publicized case dragged on for five years and made Mr. Powell himself the subject of headlines, before all charges alleged by the government were dropped.

The charges behind the 1959 trial stemmed from articles Mr. Powell wrote for the English-language China Monthly Review in which he quoted the Chinese government's claims that the United States had used germ warfare against Chinese soldiers.

Mr. Powell was indicted by a San Francisco federal grand jury on 13 counts, including violation of wartime sedition laws. Each count carried a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both.

- AP