Russian court martial convicts ex-cybersecurity chief to 22-years in jail

A Russian court martial convicted a former senior counterintelligence officer and a cybersecurity firm executive of treason, on Tuesday.

Moscow District Military Court conducted hearings behind closed doors, for months, before it found Col. Sergei Mikhailov, an ex-officer at Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), and Kaspersky Lab executive Ruslan Stoyanov guilty.

The basis for the charges is nebulous given the top-secret nature of the criminal proceedings. Russian media have reported the case centers on accusations that Mikhailov contacted Stoyanov to pass information from an FSB probe of a Russian businessmen Pavel Vrublevsky to an analyst with alleged ties to the FBI.

Mikhailov, the deputy head of cyber intelligence at FSB, received a 22-year prison sentence and was stripped of his military rank and decorations, which included the elite “For Services to the Fatherland.”

The court gave Stoyanov 14 years. The two men listened to the verdicts and sentences from a glass cage inside the courtroom, flanked by masked men.

After the pair were arrested and charged in December 2016, the timing led some people to suggest the actions were linked to the 2016 US presidential election and a possible mole who tipped off US intelligence agencies about Russian interference.

Later news reports said Mikhailov was prosecuted for passing on details about an unrelated case to an American cybercrime analyst.