Russia jails agent for passing missile secrets

Russia jails agent for passing missile secrets

MOSCOW - The Associated Press
Russia jails agent for passing missile secrets

Russia’s Vladimir Putin (C) visits a police academy in Moscow in this photo.

A Russian defense company worker was convicted May 18 of passing missile secrets to foreign intelligence in the latest espionage case amid a cold spell in Moscow’s relations with Washington.

The Sverdlov Regional Court in the city of Yekaterinburg handed an eight-year prison sentence to Alexander Gniteyev, a worker at a defense company dealing with automatic systems. Court spokesman Yelena Maryina said Gniteyev also has been ordered to pay a $3,200 fine.

Bulava missile

Anna Lastovitskaya, a spokeswoman for the regional branch of the Russian Federal Security Service, the top KGB successor agency, said Gniteyev had divulged missile secrets to foreign intelligence, but wouldn’t say what country Gniteyev was spying for. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Twitter that Russia should toughen its punishment for espionage. “If they had sentenced him to 80 (years), that would have reduced the number of those eager to pass state secrets,” he tweeted. Rogozin said that Gniteyev had handed over secrets related to the Bulava missile, developed to arm the latest generaion of Russian nuclear submarines.

Military officials have repeatedly boasted of the Bulava’s ability to penetrate any prospective missile defenses and described it as the core of the nation’s nuclear deterrent for years to come.