Russian security agents detained on suspicion of treason the 73-year-old head of a research facility that specialises in hypersonic technology, state news agency TASS said, the latest in a series of such cases.
- Alexander Kuranov was arrested in Moscow and is accused of passing secret information to a foreign citizen
- The 73-year-old is the general director of the St Petersburg-based Hypersonic Systems Research Facility
- A number of Russian scientists, soldiers and officials have been charged with treason in recent years
The suspect, Alexander Kuranov, who was arrested in Moscow, will appear in court later on Thursday (local time) and the Federal Security Service wants him held in custody for two months, TASS cited a law enforcement source as saying.
Mr Kuranov, general director of the St Petersburg-based Hypersonic Systems Research Facility oversaw work on the concept for a new hypersonic aircraft dubbed Ayaks according to the facility’s website.
Hypersonic technology allows objects to travel much faster than the speed of sound.
Russia, whose ties with the West have significantly deteriorated since 2014, has been developing a number of hypersonic weapons in recent years that President Vladimir Putin has touted as unparalleled.
The detainee is suspected of passing secret information to a foreign citizen about hypersonic technology research that he had worked on for a long time, Interfax news agency cited an unnamed source as saying.
Treason and espionage cases are usually held behind closed doors in Russia and case details seldom come to light because of their classified nature.
A Moscow court confirmed it would convene to determine Mr Kuranov’s terms of custody on Thursday. A lawyer for Mr Kuranov could not immediately be reached for comment.
State treason is punishable by up to 20 years in jail. That sentence was handed down to an aviation lecturer from Moscow in April after he was found guilty of illegally exporting technology or technical information.
A number of Russian scientists, soldiers and officials have been charged with treason in recent years after being accused of passing sensitive material to foreign countries.
Critics of the Kremlin say the charges are often unfounded and cannot be scrutinised because they are classified.