Prosecutors apologize to scientist charged with divulging secrets

By RIA Novosti

Novosibirsk (Russia) : Prosecutors in the Siberian town have issued an uncommon apology to a Russian scientist wrongly charged with disclosing state secrets in research work carried out for a US research centre.

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The Federal Security Service (FSB) launched an investigation last year against Oleg Korobeinichev, the head of the combustion kinetics laboratory at the Novosibirsk Institute of Chemical Kinetics and Combustion, and accused him of revealing sensitive information on components of a rocket propellant in one of his scientific papers prepared for a US institute.

Korobeinichev's lawyer Andrei Zhukov said prosecutors had sent a letter to him apologizing for "damage caused" by the criminal proceedings wrongly launched against Korobeinichev.

The letter came after the scientist demanded a public apology for the false charges, and was signed by the deputy head of the regional prosecutor's office.

FSB investigators dropped their case against Korobeinichev in May this year, before it went to trial. However, they refused to give details, saying the case was "classified".

Korobeinichev, 65, was awarded a research grant in 2002 under the US Department of Defence scientific programme to study the fundamental combustion processes in rocket fuels, which is a common practice at the Novosibirsk-based institute.

There have been several spy cases in Russia against scientists in the past three years. Physicist Valentin Danilov was sentenced to 14 years in prison for high treason in November 2004 for allegedly passing sensitive information to China. In the summer of 2005, his term was reduced to 13 years.

In April 2004, Igor Sutyagin, head of the military technology and economics department at the Institute of the United States and Canada, was sentenced to 15 years of prison for sharing state secrets with the US military intelligence.

In February 2006, a Moscow court ordered that Igor Reshetin, a member of the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics, remain in custody after he was charged with sharing data on dual-purpose technologies with a Chinese corporation.