Scientist Convicted of Selling Secrets

Itar-TassReshetin, left, and Vizir listening to proceedings from a defendant's cage in the Lefortovsky District Court on Monday.
A Moscow court on Monday convicted the head of a leading rocket and space research center and sentenced him to 11 1/2 years in prison for illegally selling weapons technology to China.

The Lefortovsky District Court convicted Igor Reshetin, head of TsNIIMash-Export of the Central Research Institute for Machine Building, and three of his colleagues in the case, court spokeswoman Irina Shagalina said.

Sergei Vizir, Mikhail Ivanov and Alexander Rozhkin were given prison sentences ranging from five to 11 years, Shagalina said. She declined to give further details.

The trial is one of several opened against researchers with foreign contacts in recent years.

TsNIIMash-Export was founded in 1991 to handle foreign space contracts. It has signed and fulfilled numerous agreements with China, the United States and European countries.

Reshetin was arrested in October 2005 after an almost two-year investigation into a contract with the same Chinese company implicated in the case of Valentin Danilov, a physicist who was convicted of selling classified information on space technology to China. Danilov was sentenced to 14 years in prison for providing information that he said had been published in part in scientific magazines.

He has consistently denied any wrongdoing, and his lawyer, Anatoly Yablokov, said he would appeal Monday's verdict, which he called "biased, illegal and unfair," Interfax reported.

Several scientists have been convicted of espionage and illegally exporting technology, including Danilov, weapons researcher Igor Sutyagin and Ufa-based physicist Oskar Kaibyshev.