Scientist cleared in treason trial

January 9, 2004

A scientist accused of selling space secrets to China has been cleared during the first jury trial in a treason case in Russia.

Valentin Danilov, 53, head of thermophysics at Krasnoyarsk Technical University, Siberia, spent 19 months in prison during a three-year investigation by the federal security service. The jury ruled that all the material in a report Mr Danilov wrote for the Chinese had been declassified more than a decade ago. After the acquittal on December 29, Aleksandr Petrov of Human Rights Watch in Moscow said: "It's extremely inspiring and gives us hope that all is not lost in Russia."

While Mr Danilov was on remand, China withdrew from a European Union agreement on cooperation in space technology. Mr Danilov claims that, but for his case, Russia could have secured a similar deal with the Chinese.

Prosecutors appealed against acquittal. Mr Danilov's university post has been terminated.

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