Retired Russian colonel convicted of spying for US

Last Updated: Friday, June 1, 2012 - 00:08

Moscow: A retired Russian military officer has been convicted on charges of spying for the US and sentenced to 12 years in prison, the counterintelligence agency said today, the latest in a raft of espionage cases that come amid tensions between Moscow and Washington.

A court has ruled that retired Col Vladimir Lazar will be sent to a high-security prison and stripped of his military rank, the Federal Security Service, or FSB, said in a statement.

Prosecutors said Lazar purchased several computer disks with more than 7,000 images of classified maps of Russia from a collector in 2008 and smuggled them to neighboring Belarus, where he gave them to an alleged American intelligence agent.

The FSB said the maps could be used for planning military operations against Russia. Lazar had served with the General Staff of the Russian armed forces in Moscow before his retirement in the early 2000s.

The FSB did not specify when the Moscow City Court`s verdict and sentence were handed down. Prosecutors first reported charges against Lazar in April. Russian state television broadcast brief footage from the courtroom, showing the gray-haired, bespectacled Lazar sitting in a cage.

Earlier this month, a court in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg handed an eight-year prison sentence to Alexander Gniteyev, a defense company worker accused of passing information about Russia`s latest missile, the Bulava, to a foreign intelligence agency.

And in February, Lt Col Vladimir Nesterets, who oversaw missile tests at the Plesetsk Launchpad in northern Russia, was convicted on charges of providing the CIA with secret information on new missiles and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

The series of spy trials come as US-Russian relations have soured over US-led NATO missile defense plans for Europe, which Moscow sees as a potential threat to its nuclear forces, and other disputes.

PTI



First Published: Friday, June 1, 2012 - 00:08

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