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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Judge Delays Verdict in Sutyagin Spy Case

A judge has delayed issuing a verdict in the espionage case of Igor Sutyagin, saying the prosecution's case was too vague and must be reinvestigated, Anna Stavitskaya, one of Sutyagin's attorneys, said.

Sutyagin's lawyers saw Judge Alexander Gusev's move Dec. 27 as a partial victory, but subsequently filed an appeal Thursday against a court ruling to keep their client behind bars while prosecutors take another crack at building their case.

"We disagree with the court's ruling that the defendant must remain under arrest," said Vladimir Vasiltsov, another of Sutyagin's lawyers.

Judge Gusev determined that prosecutors had failed to identify precisely which state secrets Sutyagin had revealed that were harmful to Russia's security, Vasiltsov said.

The judge also said investigators failed to look into Sutyagin's contention that he used only public information, the attorney said. He added that the investigators never translated or studied numerous English-language texts on which Sutyagin relied.

Sutyagin, 37, an analyst at Moscow's prestigious USA and Canada Institute, was arrested in October 1999 on suspicion of passing classified information on the development of new-generation submarines and the combat readiness of Russia's nuclear weapons to the London-based firm Alternative Futures.

Prosecutors claim that the firm, which hired Sutyagin as a part-time consultant, was a front for the CIA. The Federal Security Service identified one of the firm's founders, Sean Kidd, and an employee, Nadya Lock, as career U.S. intelligence agents, Interfax said.

In an apparent attempt to rebut the judge's criticism, the FSB gave Interfax a videotape on Dec. 27 in which Sutyagin admitted that he suspected both Kidd and Lock had ties to a foreign intelligence service, Interfax reported. Sutyagin told the FSB agents he realized he was acting against his country's interests and nearly decided to cut off contacts but was persuaded otherwise, Interfax said.

Sutyagin maintains that the analyses he wrote were based on open sources. He claims he never had access to classified information and insists that reading publicly available material cannot be considered a crime.

Prosecutors are seeking a 14-year sentence in a high-security prison. Sutyagin has pleaded innocent and requested a full acquittal. (WP, AP)