August 20, 2014

Russian Professors Sentenced for Spying: CCS Questions Due Process of Closed Trial

Following up on its letter of 2010, CCS wrote to President Putin protesting the due process followed when Professors Svyatoslav Bobyshev and Yevgeny Afanasyev of Baltic State Technical University were sentenced to 12 years each for spying for China. The sentences were reportedly handed down in a closed trial. These accusations stem from a cooperative relationship Baltic State Technical University had with Harbin Engineering University in China, which allowed the professors to give lectures at the Chinese university. Bobyshev and Afanasyev have denied the charges and plan to appeal their sentences.

Read the letter:

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Russia jails two men for giving China nuke secrets, Reuters, Jun 20, 2012

Russian Professors Detained without Charge, NEAR Network for Education and Academic Rights

Scholars at Risk calls for letters on behalf of Svyatoslav Bobyshev, Scholars at Risk Network, October 26, 2010

July 5, 2012

Mr. Vladimir Putin
President of the Russian Federation
The Kremlin
Ilyinka Street No. 23
103132 Moscow, Russian Federation

Dear President Putin:

We are an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world. We write now write again in concern for Professors Svyatoslav Bobyshev and Yevgeny Afanasyev.

Drs. Bobyshev and Afanasyev, professors at Baltic State Technical University in St. Petersburg, Russia have been detained since March of 2010 at Moscow’s Lefortovo maximum-security prison. On June 20, 2012, according to news reports, the professors, in a trial held behind closed doors, were sentenced to 12 years in jail for spying and passing state secrets to Chinese intelligence officers concerning Russia’s Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile. According to earlier reports, these accusations stem from a cooperative relationship Baltic State Technical University has with Harbin Engineering University in China, which allowed the professors to give lectures at the Chinese university. The professors have denied the charges and plan to appeal their sentence. According to the Committee for the Defense of Scientists, a Russian organization set up to combat what it calls “a witch hunt against academics” by the FSB (Federal Security Service), the professors are victims of “spy mania.” In 2010, the chairman of Drs. Bobyshev and Afanasyev’s academic department stated that the lectures they gave did not contain state secrets.

The two-year pretrial detention of Svyatoslav Bobyshev and Yevgeny Afanasyev and their closed door trial on espionage charges that may have no basis in fact contravenes international standards of due process, fair trial and detention procedures, as guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Russia is a signatory.

We urge you to reconsider the professors’ arrests and sentencing, whether the charges have any basis, and to ensure their well-being pending their earliest release, including regular access to legal counsel, to family and to medical treatment.

Sincerely,

Eugene Chudnovsky
Alexander Greer
Joel Lebowitz
Walter Reich
Paul Plotz

Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists

Copies to:

Mr. Yuriy Chaika
General Public Prosecutor of the Russian Federation
GSP-3, 15a B. Dimitrovka Street
125993, Moscow, Russian Federation

Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak of the Russian Federation
2650 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Washington DC 20007

US Ambassador to the Russian Federation Michael McFaul
US Embassy in Moscow
Bolshoi Deviatinsky Pereulok No. 8
Moscow 121099, Russian Federation
Tel: +7 (495) 728-5000, fax: 728-5090

Assistant Secretary Michael H. Posner
US Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington DC 20520