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Last Updated: Friday, 5 November, 2004, 16:49 GMT
Retrial convicts Russia space spy
A Russian Soyuz rocket is prepared for launch
Danilov was accused of passing on secrets of Russia's space industry
A Russian physicist has been convicted of spying for China nearly a year after being acquitted of the charges.

Valentin Danilov was cleared of passing on space technology secrets in December 2003 - but the verdict was overturned and he was found guilty at a retrial.

The original acquittal was widely seen as a defeat for Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB).

Danilov claimed information he had sold to a Chinese organisation was already in the public domain.

The 53-year-old professor at Krasnoyarsk Technical University in Siberia was charged with spying in 1999 after he tried to sell his invention - a tool designed to examine ways to destroy redundant satellites.

He plans to appeal.

The physicist's case is one of a wave of high-profile spy trials in recent years that human rights groups fear may mark a return to Soviet-style scare tactics, says the BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Moscow.

Jury pressure

Danilov's original trial had attracted attention as it was the first time a suspected spy had appeared before a jury since jury trials for serious crimes were reinstated in post-Soviet Russia.

After the acquittal, prosecutors claimed the jurors had been put under pressure during the case.

I did no damage to this country. I am a scientist. I have no links at all to weapons development programmes
Valentin Danilov
The retrial at the court in Krasnoyarsk was held under a new panel of judges and a new jury.

Danilov is expected to be sentenced on 10 November.

Human rights groups have accused the Russian security services of using KGB-era tactics to target scientists and researchers who have established links with foreign organisations.

And in a telephone interview with the BBC, Danilov suggested his trial was part of a battle for control in Russia that also embraces the country's legal system.

''I think that's why they're taking such a tough line,'' he said, ''but I still don't understand their motives.

"I did no damage to this country. I am a scientist. I have no links at all to weapons development programmes, or anything sensitive covered by the law on state secrets. I don't know why they are being so stubborn."

Earlier this year, a weapons expert was jailed for 15 years for selling sensitive military information to a UK firm, that was allegedly a front for the CIA. Igor Sutyagin also argued that the data was already in the public domain.

Valentin Danilov told the BBC he feared his case sounded yet another disturbing note.

"If I can be found guilty of spying, then they could take any physicist here and make a case against him very easily,'' he explained. ''They could draw up whole long lists of people and institutes.''


SEE ALSO:
Russian gets 15 years for spying
07 Apr 04  |  Europe
Whistleblower clears last hurdle
13 Sep 00  |  Europe


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