Russian scientist released from jail

Sept. 27, 2002 at 3:25 PM
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MOSCOW, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- A Russian physicist accused of high treason for transferring sensitive space technology information to China was released Friday but immediately placed under house arrest, the state-run ITAR-TASS news agency reported.

Valentin Danilov, 53, spent 580 days in a pre-trial detention center on suspicion he intended to hand over classified information to a Chinese company and defrauded his university of $15,500 to fund his research. He is under house arrest in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, lawyer Yelena Yevmenova said.

"My client will now have a chance to have a short break and recover after his health has been undermined in jail," she said.

Prosecutors said Danilov planned to provide the Chinese a research model to simulate the influence of outer space on Earth's artificial satellites.

At the time, Russia's Federal Security Service said the model would have enabled China to significantly reduce the cost of scientific research in the area and also develop its own satellite soon.

However, this week Krasnoyarsk's Central Court ordered the scientist's release on condition he remain in the city. The ruling was based on a stipulation of Russia's new law on criminal proceedings, which took effect July 1. According to the new legislation, detainees in the pretrial jails have to be released if prosecutors fail to charge them within prescribed time limits.

Danilov was freed as FSB prosecutors missed this week's deadline for indictment.

However, investigation will continue and the prosecution is likely to appeal the release.

Danilov's lawyer argues that the technology he was working on was declassified 10 years ago.

Speaking to reporters after his release, Danilov insisted he was innocent and said the charges against him were unspecified and lacked clarity.

"They (prosecutors) haven't been able to properly file charges," he told Izvestia.ru Web site. "How many times has my lawyer requested that they clarify the essence of the charges (to no avail)? So, what should I denounce?"

He added that the text of the contract with the Chinese company was widely available and the work on the contract halted after the Russian side presented designs.

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