MOSCOW, October 5 - RAPSI. The Federal Penitentiary Service acted lawfully in offering former YUKOS chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky the choice between having personal interviews with the media and family visit, head of the Security and Supervision Department Sergei Smirnov told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.

Earlier, Yury Shmidt, an attorney for Khodorkovsky, said his client was only allowed to meet journalists at the expense of meetings with his relatives. The attorney believes that the rule was invented especially for his client and the penitentiary officers are acting unlawfully.

In his official reply to RIA Novosti, Smirnov stated that by law convicts are entitled to a limited number of short and long meetings. Exceptions are made only to attorneys and those who have the right to provide legal assistance. Their visits are not counted or limited in number.

In late 2010, a Moscow district court sentenced Khodorkovsky to 14 years in prison for oil theft and money laundering. However, the Moscow City Court reduced his sentence by one year.