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Physicist found not guilty of spying
KRASNOYARSK - A jury has acquitted Russian physicist Valentin Danilov, charged with spying for China and fraud. On Tuesday the Krasnoyarsk Regional Court is to pronounce its final verdict on the scientist. The prosecutor’s office intends to appeal. The Russian scientist Valentin Danilov, one of several scientists recently accused of espionage, has been fully acquitted by a jury at the Krasnoyarsk Regional Court. Danilov was charged with treason in the form of espionage under Article 275 of the Criminal Code and of fraud (Article 159). Yelena Yevmenova, Danilov’s lawyer, told Gazeta.Ru that before passing the verdict the jurors spent four hours discussing the proceedings and evidence presented to the court, whereupon 8 of the 12 jurors decided in favour of acquitting the scientist on all charges. Now, in line with the criminal procedure law, the Krasnoyarsk Regional Court has to pass a verdict of not guilty on Danilov. Judge Alexander Kulyabov is to pronounce the verdict at 1000 local time on Tuesday. Thus, instead of the 20-year prison sentence Danilov would have faced if he was convicted, the physicist will be exempted from criminal responsibility. Valentin Danilov, the former head of the Thermo-Physics Research Centre of the Krasnoyarsk State Technical University, was arrested by officers of the Krasnoyarsk FSB directorate in February 2001 for allegedly selling top secret satellite information to a Chinese company. On behalf of the university Danilov had signed a contract with a Chinese import-export company for the production of a test-bed and software for studying the complex effects of outer space conditions on satellites. The Krasnoyarsk regional FSB accused Danilov of selling state secrets to China. FSB investigators claimed that for his work Danilov had received $36,000 from the Chinese side. The scientist maintained that the information he used in his research was available in scientific journals and had been declassified for over ten years. The university sided with the FSB, accusing Danilov of misappropriating 466,000 roubles that he had allegedly received from the Chinese. The lost amount was supposed to be spent on purchasing component parts for making a test-bed, the university said. The scientist spent 19 months in pre-trial detention before he was released last September under a travel ban pending trial. His colleagues showed their support for him while he was in custody. Over 20 scientists working at Krasnoyarsk universities and the Siberian department of the Russian Academy of Sciences wrote an open letter to the prosecutor of the Krasnoyarsk Region asking him to review the case and release Danilov from custody. Many Russian human rights activists and scientists, including the 2003 Nobel Prize winner Vitaly Ginzburg, called for Danilov’s acquittal. Today a not-guilty verdict on all counts has finally been pronounced on the physicist. The prosecutor’s office said it would appeal the verdict.
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