A Russian scientist faces up to 20 years in prison for allegedly passing secrets to China’s security services, media reports from Moscow said.
Dmitry Kolker, a doctor of physics and mathematics at Novosibirsk State University, was detained on charges of treason, the TASS agency quoted judicial authorities as saying.
A number of Russian scientists have been arrested and charged with treason in recent years for allegedly passing sensitive material to foreigners. Critics of the Kremlin say the arrests often stem from unfounded paranoia.
Alexander Kuranov, the director of a hypersonic research laboratory, was detained last August on similar treason charges. Authorities did not state the foreign country concerned, but state-owned Rossiiskaya Gazeta noted that he”maintains close ties with American colleagues”.
In April last year, Valery Golubkin and Anatoly Gurbanov, who worked at the Zhukovsky Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute, were charged with passing secrets to unnamed foreign nationals.
China’s Lukewarm Response
The arrest of a Russian scientist allegedly spying for China comes just three months after Beijing and Moscow announced a strategic, ”no limits” partnership in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
However, China’s given a lukewarm response to Russian requests for support as it seeks to evade US-led sanctions.
Kolker has been moved to a prison in Moscow and faces charges punishable by 12 to 20 years in prison, the RIA-Novosti agency said.
The agency quoted Kolker’s son, Maxim Kolker, as saying the prosecution stemmed from a lecture at an international conference in China. The younger Kolker said Russian authorities has already approved his comments.
Novye Izvestia, another media outlet, said Kolker regularly gave lectures in China on laser spectroscopy and the basic principles of lidar, adding that the scientist was accompanied by Russian federal agents in China.
Lidar, short for light detection and ranging, uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure distances. It can be used in developing autonomous driving systems, but is also used in mapping and has many military applications.
Kolker’s daughter said the scientist has been diagnosed with stage four cancer, TASS reported, and is being fed intravenously in prison.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell