Russian Man Gets 12 Years In Prison On High Treason Charge He Denies

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia -- A court in Russia's Far East has sentenced a local pensioner to 12 years in prison on a high treason charge, which he denies.

The Primorye Krai regional court in the city of Vladivostok said on February 7 that the city resident, whose identity was not disclosed, was found guilty of allegedly collecting classified data linked to a hydroacoustic system to locate submarines which he planned to hand to a representative of an unspecified foreign country.

Russian media identified the man as a retired officer of Russia's counterintelligence structures, Viktor Korolyov, who was arrested in December 2019 and has denied the charges and at one point embarked on a hunger strike to protest how his case was investigated.

Sources close to the investigation told RFE/RL last year that Korolyov's arrest might have been linked to his plans to sell to China unique dry lubricants created in Russia for the Defense Ministry.

Russian rights activists say nearly 100 people have been convicted of high treason in the country in the last 20 years, many of whom denied the charges.

Treason charges against Russian men and women, especially researchers and scientists, have become common as a way of sending a message through the academic and professional communities, critics of the government and rights activists say.

With reporting by RIA Novosti