Russian missile scientist accused of transmitting “classified information” to China | outside

Russian authorities suspect that Alexander Shiplyuk, director of a high-ranking Russian scientific institute specializing in hypersonic technology, has handed over “classified information” to China. Two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Shiplyuk is the head of the Khristianovich Institute for Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (ITAM) in Siberia. He was held some time ago together with two other scientists specializing in hypersonic technology, Anatoly Maslov and Valery Zvyagintsev.

Reuters is now reporting, based on two anonymous sources, that he was suspected of passing classified information during a science conference in China in 2017.

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The 56-year-old scientist maintains his innocence and insists that the information in question has never been classified and is freely available on the internet. One of the sources, who did not reveal his identity, told Reuters, “He is convinced that the information was not classified and that he is innocent.” Shiplyuk is now the 1,000th consecutive Russian scientist arrested in recent years for allegedly handing state secrets to Beijing.

Asked about the charges against the ITAM scholars and about previous cases of alleged treason related to China, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the security services are alert to possible cases of “treason”.

Kinjal hypersonic missile shot down by Ukraine © Reuters

President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stated that Russia is a world leader in hypersonic missiles, which reach speeds up to ten times faster than sound. The arrest of the scientists shows that Moscow is vigilant about losing any technological leadership — including China, albeit an ally of Russia.

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The arrest of the three scientists made headlines last week when their ITAM colleagues signed an open letter of support. They complained that it was impossible for scientists to do their jobs if they risked being arrested for writing scientific papers or giving presentations at international conferences.

The letter rejected the idea that the three were communicating secrets, stating that any material they published or submitted was carefully screened to ensure it was not classified.

Scientists will be judged behind closed doors. Just last month, Russia’s parliament passed a law that raised the maximum penalty for treason to 20 years in prison.

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Denton Watson

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