Russian authorities have detained the head of an institute researching hypersonic flight on charges of high treason.
Moscow’s Lefortovo district court said it would convene to determine Aleksandr Kuranov's terms of custody later on August 12.
Kuranov, the chief of the St. Petersburg-based Hypersonic Systems Research Center, is suspected of passing classified materials to a foreigner about hypersonic technology research, according to media reports,
The 73-year-old scientist oversaw work on the concept for a new hypersonic space vehicle dubbed Ayaks, according to the research center’s website.
Russia, whose ties with the West have dramatically deteriorated over the past years, has been developing a number of weapons able to travel faster than the speed of sound, which President Vladimir Putin has touted as unparalleled.
A number of Russian scientists, soldiers, and officials have been charged with treason in recent years after being accused of passing sensitive material to foreign countries.
Critics of the Kremlin say the charges are often unfounded and cannot be scrutinized because they are classified.
Viktor Kudryavtsev, a researcher at a Russian rocket- and spacecraft-design institute, died earlier this year while awaiting trial on treason charges.
Another scientist who worked with Kudryavtsev, Roman Kovalyov, was sentenced to seven years in prison in June 2020 on similar charges.
With reporting by Reuters, Interfax, TASS, and RIA Novosti