Court Grants Parole To ‘Spy’ Physicist Danilov
Published: November 14, 2012 (Issue # 1735)
MOSCOW — Valentin Danilov, a Siberian physicist jailed on charges of espionage and treason amid a spying frenzy that swept the country in President Vladimir Putin’s first term, was granted parole Tuesday and could be freed next week.
A Krasnoyarsk court, backed by local prosecutors, ruled that Danilov could be freed on parole after serving 11 years of a 13-year sentence on charges of selling sensitive information about space technology to China.
“This does not mean that Danilov will be released immediately,” the court’s press service told Interfax on Tuesday. “If the court ruling is not appealed, it will become effective in 10 days and the scientist will be released.”
That means Danilov could walk free as soon as Nov. 22.
Danilov, who headed the Thermo-Physics Center at Krasnoyarsk State Technical University at the time of his arrest, has asked the court to allow him to live in Novosibirsk until the completion of his parole term, Interfax reported.
“This is great news,” veteran rights campaigner Lyudmila Alexeyeva said.
“Danilov is a man of great honor and a talented scientist who did not deserve to spend a single day in prison,” she said, according to Interfax.
Alexeyeva, a co-founder of the Public Committee to Protect Scientists, created to defend scientists targeted in the spy-mania of the first half of the 2000s, said she had known Danilov for a long time and believed his professions of innocence from the first day of his arrest.
She said the information that Danilov was accused of selling to China was available in “school textbooks.”
The local FSB office in Krasnoyarsk opened the case against Danilov in May 2000, and the physicist was arrested in Feb. 2001. A jury acquitted Danilov of all charges in Dec. 2003, but a new jury convicted him during a second trial on the same charges in Nov. 2004 and sentenced him to 14 years in prison. The sentence was later reduced by one year.