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Russian Scientist Faces High Treason Charge

A 75-year-old employee of a research branch of Russia's Space Agency (Roskosmos) has been placed under house arrest on suspicion of passing classified data to a foreign state.

The press service of Moscow's Lefortovo district court announced on July 28 that Vladimir Lapygin faces charges of high treason in connection with an investigation that has been ongoing since May, and will be under house arrest until September 13.

Few details regarding the case, which has been categorized by the court as classified, have emerged.

Lapygin's case is one of several in recent years in which academics have been accused of disseminating sensitive information.

In April, officials in Russia's Nizhny Novgorod arrested a 66-year-old nuclear physicist, Vladimir Golubev, for allegedly divulging classified material during a scientific conference in Prague in 2013.

Golubev, a retired employee of the Federal Nuclear Center in the town of Sarov, denied wrongdoing, saying the information in his report was freely available in open sources and could not be considered classified.

Another Russian scientist, Igor Sutyagin -- who worked as an arms control and nuclear weapons expert at the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow -- spent almost 11 years in jail after he was detained in 1999 and accused of passing classified data to foreign nationals. He was found guilty in 2004, but was released in 2010 in exchange for the release of a group of Russian spies arrested in the United States.

Sutyagin denied any wrongdoing, saying that as a civil employee he did not have any access to classified documents. He currently resides in the United Kingdom.

In 2012, Russian physicist Valentin Danilov was released from jail after serving 11 years for spying.

Danilov was arrested in February 2001 and sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment in November 2004 for passing classified information to Chinese nationals. His sentence was shortened in 2012 and he was released that year.

Danilov maintained his innocence, also saying the information he provided came from open sources.

With reporting by TASS and Interfax
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