MOSCOW – A scientist in central Russia on Tuesday was given a six-year suspended sentence for illegally selling technology abroad that could be used in weapons, his lawyer said.
Oscar Kaibyshev was the latest Russian scientist to be targeted by security agencies for alleged espionage or misuse of classified information. Some academics and rights groups warn that the investigations have put a chill on international collaboration by Russian scientists.
Kaibyshev, a 67-year-old physicist in the Bashkortostan region about 750 miles east of Moscow, was convicted of illegally exporting dual-use technologies — systems that can be used for civilian and for military purposes — to South Korea, defense lawyer Yuri Gervis said.
Kaibyshev has denied the charges, saying the technology had already been patented in the United States and other countries.
Gervis said he will appeal the Bashkortostan Supreme Court's verdict to the Russian high court.
"I expected acquittal, because there was no proof of my guilt either regarding dual technologies or some kind of embezzlement," Kaibyshev said in comments broadcast on NTV.
John Shideler, president of Virginia-based Futurepast Inc., which published a book co-authored by Kaibyshev, defended the scientist as a victim of corrupt government officials.
He said the Federal Security Service which pursued the case, was interested in the profits generated by the Institute for Metal Superplasticity Problems, which Kaibyshev founded and directed until being suspended from the post in early 2005.
"The whole thing has been fabricated from the beginning," Shideler said. "The whole thing has been, from the beginning, an operation to take over the cashflows of the institution."
Kaibyshev allegedly sold technology developed by his institute that uses molecular processes to shape metals without weakening them to the South Korean tire company ASA.
Kaibyshev has said ASA wanted to use the technology to make automobile tires. However, the FSB, the main successor agency to the KGB, found that the information allegedly sold by Kaibyshev could also have been used to make rockets and other arms, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.
An institute official declined to comment Tuesday; ASA and FSB officials could not be reached.
Last year, arms control researcher Igor Sutyagin was convicted of treason for allegedly selling information on nuclear submarines and missile-warning systems to a British company that investigators claimed was a CIA cover. Physicist Valentin Danilov was convicted of selling classified information on space technology to China.
Human rights advocates say the FSB is deeply suspicious of Russian scientists' contacts with foreigners and the service has been emboldened now that its former director Vladimir Putin is president.