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Russian scientist given 6-year suspended sentence for spying

RIA Novosti

08/08/2006 11:00 NIZHNY NOVGOROD, August 8 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian scientist has been given a suspended prison sentence of six years after being convicted of espionage, a court spokesman said Tuesday.

Oskar Kaibyshev, 66, the former director of the Institute for Metals Superplasticity Problems (IMPS), had been on trial in the Supreme Court of the Volga republic of Bashkortostan for passing dual-use technology to South Korea.

The spokesman said Kaibyshev had also been banned from holding any positions of authority for three years.

The scientist's lawyer said he would appeal the verdict, as did the state prosecutor, who said the sentence as too lenient. Kaibyshev could have been sentenced to a 10-year jail term.

The trial of the scientist from Ufa, the capital of Bashkortostan, was held behind closed doors, as the Federal Security Service (FSB) said top-secret information could emerge in the case.

More than 80 witnesses testified at the trial.

The case against Kaibyshev was initiated after FSB officers detained a South Korean delegation last year that was leaving Russia with 500 pages of technical documentation and several compact discs containing technical data from Kaibyshev's institute.

The institute said the confiscated data focused on years of collaboration between the institute and tire manufacturer ASA, a subsidiary of Seoul-based Hankook Tire. Kaibyshev said the firm was using superplastic technology in designs for high-pressure tires. The technology stretches titanium alloy to improve its mechanical properties, but FSB experts said the technical data provided to South Korean experts could be used to produce missiles and weapons.

The trial follows a series of cases involving the FSB, and scientists that the service has accused of passing classified information to other countries.

Igor Sutyagin, an arms researcher at the foreign policy department of the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in April 2004 for passing classified information to U.K.-based Alternative Futures Consulting, which Russia's security service said was front for U.S. intelligence.

In November 2004, the Krasnoyarsk Regional Court sentenced thermal physicist Valentin Danilov to 14 years in prison for spying for China after he had been found guilty on charges of high treason and fraud. In June 2005, the Supreme Court of Russia cut the prison term by one year. Human rights activists criticized the legal foundations of both cases.

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