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Two Russian Cybersecurity Figures Convicted Of Treason, Sentenced To Long Prison Terms


A general view of the Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab in Moscow (file photo)

A Russian military court has convicted a former Federal Security Service (FSB) officer and an expert at the cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab of treason and handed them long prison terms in a case that is reportedly linked to the United States.

After a trial held behind closed doors, the Moscow regional military court on February 26 convicted former FSB officer Sergei Mikhailov and Ruslan Stoyanov, chief of the computer incidents investigation team at Kaspersky Lab, of passing secret information to foreign intelligence agencies.

Mikhailov, who worked in the FSB’s information-security division, was sentenced to 22 years in prison and Stoyanov to 14 years, Russian news agencies reported. Mikhailov was also stripped of his colonel's rank and his decorations.

"We will appeal the sentence," Stoyanov's lawyer, Inga Lebedeva, told the TASS news agency. "The guys think that they have stepped on some toes during their counterhacking activity."

Russian media reports have said that investigators accused the two of selling confidential documents to the FBI.

Reports have said the documents were files from a Russian investigation into the former head of payment services company Chronopay, Pavel Vrublevsky, who is accused in the United States for alleged cybercrimes.

Defense lawyer Lebedeva was unable to give details about the closed trial but told AP that the verdict was based on Vrublevsky's testimony.

Mikhailov was arrested in December 2016 and Stoyanov was detained in January 2017.

Two other suspects were charged during the inquiry, Bloomberg reported on February 22, quoting people familiar with the case.

They were identified by the sources, who asked not be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the case, as businessman Georgy Fomchenkov and Dmitry Dokuchayev, a member of Mikhailov’s staff, who is also accused in the United States of involvement in the hacking of 500 million Yahoo e-mail accounts.

The two have pleaded guilty to U.S. ties and will be sentenced later, Bloomberg reported.

All four men were arrested in December 2016, shortly after Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency, and charged with treason along with a researcher for the private computer company Kaspersky Lab.

The FSB, along with Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, have both been blamed for hacking campaigns that targeted U.S. political operatives, including the Democratic National Committee.

The Kremlin dismissed suggestions of links between the case and alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

With reporting by Reuters, TASS, Interfax, Meduza, and Bloomberg
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