Russia’s former cybersecurity chief jailed for 22 years

Russia’s former cybersecurity chief jailed for 22 years

A Russian military court has convicted a former senior counter-intelligence officer and a cybersecurity firm executive of treason.

Their convictions on Tuesday concluded a case that initially aroused speculation of a manufactured effort to punish the source of leaks about Russian campaign hacking.

Moscow’s District Military Court heard several months of evidence and arguments behind closed doors before it found Colonel Sergei Mikhailov, an ex-officer at Russia’s Federal Security Service, and Kaspersky Lab executive Ruslan Stoyanov, guilty.

Sergei Mikhailov was jailed for 22 years (Pavel Golovkin/AP)
Sergei Mikhailov was jailed for 22 years (Pavel Golovkin/AP)

The basis for the charges remains murky given the top-secret nature of the criminal proceedings.

Russian media have reported the case centres on accusations that Mikhailov contacted Stoyanov to pass information from an FSB probe of a Russian businessman Pavel Vrublevsky to an analyst with alleged ties to the FBI.

Mikhailov, the deputy head of cyber intelligence at the domestic security agency, also known as FSB, received a 22-year prison sentence and was stripped of his military rank and decorations, which included the elite For Services To The Fatherland.

The court gave Stoyanov 14 years.

Ruslan Stoyanov was jailed for 14 years (Pavel Golovkin/AP)
Ruslan Stoyanov was jailed for 14 years (Pavel Golovkin/AP)

The two men listened to the verdicts and sentences from a glass cage inside the courtroom, flanked by masked men.

After they were arrested and charged in December 2016, the timing led some people to suggest the actions were linked to the 2016 US presidential election and a possible mole who tipped off US intelligence agencies about Russian interference.

Later news reports said Mikhailov was prosecuted for passing on details about an unrelated case to an American cybercrime analyst.

Inga Lebedeva, Stoyanov’s defence lawyer, said secrecy rules prevented her from providing details about the trial.

But Lebedeva said after the verdicts were given that allegations involving potential meddling in the US elections did not come up.

She alleged the charges were trumped up to appease the businessman Pavel Vrublevsky.

“The case has been concocted at Vrublevsky’s orders,” Lebedeva alleged.

Vrublevsky, who testified during the long trial, rejected her accusation.

- Press Association

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