Scientist's acquittal in spy case overturned

June 18, 2004

The Russian supreme court has overturned the jury acquittal of a Siberian space scientist tried last year on spy charges. Human rights groups called the move a step backwards for democracy.

Valentin Danilov, former head of thermophysics at Krasnoyarsk Technical University, had spent 19 months in prison on remand before he was cleared in December of selling space secrets to the Chinese. He now faces retrial.

The supreme court last week accepted an appeal by prosecutors acting for the Federal Security Service that the territorial court's verdict was unsafe because evidence that had been ruled inadmissible was discussed in court and jury deliberations had been leaked. Professor Danilov said he wanted his case to be heard by a panel of three judges rather than a jury.

Human rights activist Lev Ponomarev said the supreme court ruling went against legal principles.

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