Russia paroles physicist jailed for spying

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2012, 3:56am

A Russian court yesterday paroled a physicist convicted of spying for China and jailed for 14 years in 2004 in a case criticised by human rights campaigners during President Vladimir Putin's first term.

Valentin Danilov, now in his 60s, is expected to be freed in 10 days. Rights activists said the satellite technology data he passed to China was declassified and the case was politically motivated.

"Danilov has already served two-thirds of his term and behaved well," said Maria Fomushina, spokesman for the court in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk which decided to parole him. "The decision also took into account his health condition."

Danilov will be freed next week unless the ruling is challenged. He will remain on parole for the rest of his term, which Fomushina said amounted to just over three years and two months.

Danilov had been a researcher at Krasnoyarsk State University. He had pleaded innocent, saying that the information he provided was not classified and that he published some of it in scientific magazines.

He also argued that he had received an official clearance for a contract with the Chinese company to build equipment to model the impact of the space environment on satellites.

An initial decision to acquit him was overturned and he was sentenced in a second trial.

Danilov's trial was one of several prominent cases during Putin's first spell as president from 2000 until 2008.

Rights activists long have pushed for Danilov's release, describing his case as part of a campaign of intimidation of scholars by the Federal Security Service, a successor to the KGB.

Additional reporting by Associated Press