U.S. Slams Khodorkovsky's Guilty Verdict

(CNN)

A White House statement Monday also criticized the case, saying it "appears to be an abusive use of the legal system for improper ends."

"The apparent selective application of the law to these individuals undermines Russia's reputation as a country committed to deepening the rule of law," said the statement by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs,. The statement added that the United States would continue monitoring developments in the case.

In a separate statement, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the conviction "raises serious questions about selective prosecution -- and about the rule of law being overshadowed by political considerations."

"This and similar cases have a negative impact on Russia's reputation for fulfilling its international human rights obligations and improving its investment climate," Clinton's statement said.

The court was originally scheduled to read the verdict in the trial on December 15, but it was unexpectedly postponed.

The Yukos oil company was once Russia's largest oil producer. Khodorkovsky is serving an eight-year sentence for fraud and tax evasion, having underpaid taxes on the oil his company produced.

Yukos was later broken up and absorbed by the state.