Jeffrey LewisDanilov Conviction

A Russian court has convicted Russian physicist Valentin Danilov of of selling state secrets to China, overturning his earlier acquittal that angered the FSB (nee KGB).

The case parallels that of Igor Sutyagin, a scholar at Moscow/’s Institute of USA and Canada Studies (ISKRAN), who was convicted on trumped-up espionage charges and sentenced to 15 years in a Russian prison. As in the case of Sutyagin:

  • Danilov’s attorney was reportedly barred from “describing exactly what material was given to the Chinese company, leaving the jury with the choice of believing either him or the state on the nature of the documents that are at the center of the case.”
  • The information in question—in Danilov’s case technical information regarding the impact of solar-terrestrial physics on satellites according to the Moscow Times—“were exclusively non-secret materials, available in the public domain…”
  • Danilov was acquitted by a jury in December. “The verdict sparked outrage among some officials in the security services and was later overturned by the Supreme Court, which ordered a new trial.”

Daniel C. Mattis, chair of the Committee on the International Freedom of Scientists of the American Physical Society, wrote letter to Physics Today that captures the injustice of the decision.