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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sutyagin Moved to Lefortovo Prison

Igor Sutyagin, the arms control researcher on trial for allegedly conducting espionage for the United States, has been transferred from a Kaluga jail to the Lefortovo prison in Moscow, a defense lawyer said Tuesday.

Sutyagin, a scholar at Moscow's respected USA and Canada Institute, was arrested in October 1999 on suspicion of passing information on the development of new-generation submarines and the combat-readiness of Russia's nuclear weapons and missile attack warning systems to a British company allegedly set up as a cover for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Prosecutors have demanded he serve 14 years in a high-security prison.

Sutyagin has pleaded not guilty, maintaining that the analyses he wrote were all based on open sources and that he had no reason to believe the British company was an intelligence cover.

Until last week, Sutyagin was held in a cramped jail cell in Kaluga, his hometown 160 kilometers south of Moscow.

A Kaluga court had been expected to deliver a verdict in the case in December, but instead it instructed prosecutors to continue investigating and left Sutyagin in detention. He can be held in pretrial detention until October.

In March, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal to free Sutyagin.

German Gavryunin, a lawyer in Sutyagin's defense team, said his client had been transferred Thursday to Lefortovo, the Federal Security Service's main detention center. He said such a move was not out of the ordinary and did not necessarily signal a change in the prosecution's tactics -- though he did not rule out that prosecutors and the FSB might try to move the case to the Moscow City Court.

A group of Sutyagin's supporters said in a statement that the Moscow court "has proven to be quite reliable in rendering guilty verdicts in earlier 'spy trials' no matter how weak the case presented by the FSB was."

Sutyagin's case is among a series of high-profile espionage trials that human rights advocates say reflect the continuing, unfettered authority of the FSB.

Gavryunin said that the new Criminal Procedural Code that went into effect on Monday would have an important impact on the conduct of Sutyagin's case.

"Now criminal cases cannot be sent back for further investigation," Gavryunin said. "The court will have to deliver either an acquittal or a guilty verdict."