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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sutyagin Espionage Trial Resumes

KALUGA, Central Russia — The trial resumed Monday against a Russian arms control researcher accused of spying for the United States, but was quickly adjourned so that judges could verify witnesses' identities.

The case against Igor Sutyagin, a military specialist at the prestigious U.S.A. and Canada Institute, is the latest in what human rights advocates say is a spate of spy cases intended to discourage researchers from maintaining contacts with foreigners.

The trial went into recess so that court workers could verify identification documents, said defense lawyer Vladimir Vasiltsov. It was scheduled to resume Tuesday.

Sutyagin's supporters have been conducting an Internet campaign to raise awareness about the case. The Federal Security Service, or FSB, which opened the case against Sutyagin, on Monday warned that they, too, could run afoul of Russian laws.

"Those Russian citizens who work for [Sutyagin] with mysterious foreign clients need to think about possible collisions with the law, and stop in time," said FSB general Nikolai Volobuyev in an interview with Interfax. He said the supporters were trying to sway Russian and international public opinion by claiming Sutyagin is a victim of human rights abuse, when in fact the case is "a banal instance of military-technical espionage."

Sutyagin's lawyers say he steadfastly maintains his innocence and is perplexed by the charges against him. "He has always denied, and continues to deny, his guilt. He doesn't see any crime in what he has done," Vasiltsov said.

The FSB says the case is motivated solely by the need to protect state secrets. Volobuyev said Sutyagin had worked with a front company for an intelligence service from a NATO country.

He said the company, Alternative Futures, registered in London, has since closed. He said that while Sutyagin had no access to secret information at his institute, he regularly read lectures for military and security personnel. The lectures "allowed him to clarify and reconfirm from his unsuspecting listeners and partners in conversation information necessary for the foreigners," Interfax quoted Volobuyev as saying.

A central tenet of the defense's case has been that Sutyagin had no access to secret information and so could not be a spy. Supporters say he worked only with open sources such as newspaper articles and that his analysis produced accurate conclusions about the state of the Russian military — something that displeased authorities.

But one of his colleagues, Sergei Trush, said last month that some of the open foreign sources Sutyagin had consulted contained information that was considered secret in Russia.

RTR television on Monday broadcast clips of investigative videotapes provided by the FSB, showing investigators counting $100 bills and combing through piles of papers and books allegedly found in Sutyagin's office, including Tom Clancy's Cold War spy novel, "The Hunt for Red October."

Sutyagin, 35, has been in jail since he was arrested in October 1999. He faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.