Imprisoned Russian Scientist Walks Free

KRASNOYARSK, November 24 (RIA Novosti) – Physicist and convicted spy Valentin Danilov walked to freedom on Saturday after serving eight years in prison, pledging that he will continue studying science.

“Of course, I will be involved in science, just not related to outer space,” Danilov, who was convicted in 2004 of passing data on satellite technology to China, said at a press conference after his release, “because everything space-related in our country is a state secret.”

He was paroled earlier this month for the remainder of his 14-year prison sentence.

Danilov added that he has also prepared a proposal to improve the country’s penitentiary system, based on his time in prison.

The criminal case against Danilov was originally brought in May 2000 by the regional division of the Federal Security Service in Krasnoyarsk. He was arrested in February 2001.

The physicist, who headed the Thermo-Physics Center at Krasnoyarsk State Technical University, was suspected of treason, stemming from the transfer of classified information to China. The data allegedly came from his research conducted for Russia’s Defense Ministry.

He was charged with embezzling 466,000 rubles (about $16,200) from the sum paid by China to his employers. Danilov denied the allegations.

Though acquitted in late 2003, the Supreme Court declared the ruling illegal in June 2004, and Danilov was convicted shortly after. He was then sentenced to 14 years in prison. Later, the sentence was reduced by one year.

The scientist consistently maintained that the information he was accused of selling had been available in scientific journals and had been declassified for over 10 years.

“No one has told me yet what secrets I am privy to,” he said after his release.

Human rights actvists in Russia had regularly spoken out against Danilov’s imprisonment, claiming it had been part of a larger “spy mania” that swept Russia after President Vladimir Putin’s rise to power.

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