MOSCOW, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Two St. Petersburg, Russia, scientists were arrested on spy charges, accused of passing state secrets to unidentified Chinese citizens, officials said.
The arrests of Baltic State Technical University professors Svyatoslav Bobyshev and Yevgeny Afanasyev, some observers said, were overshadowed by the United States' swap of 10 Russian agents for four Russians imprisoned on spy charges, The Moscow Times reported Wednesday.
Bobyshev and Afanasyev have denied any wrongdoing. The Federal Security Service hasn't made any statements about the arrests.
Human rights activists accuse Federal Security Service officers of fabricating the case to enhance their position with their supervisors, the Times said.
Last week, the Lefortovsky District Court extended Bobyshev and Afanasyev's pre-trial detention in Moscow's maximum-security Lefortovo prison another four months as the case against them is prepared, the Times said.
Baltic State Technical University has a cooperative agreement with China's Harbin Engineering University, which Bobyshev and Afanasyev visited at least six times to for lectures in recent years, said Yury Kruglov, department chairman, said in an interview with Ogonyok magazine published in March.
Kruglov said the research conducted by the professors did not involve information that could lead to their arrest.