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Russian Cyber Expert Sentenced for Treason in FSB Scandal

Dmitry Serebryakov / TASS

A Russian internet entrepreneur has been sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of state treason in the interests of the United States.

Georgy Fomchenkov’s verdict comes a month after cybersecurity expert Ruslan Stoyanov and ex-FSB security officer Sergei Mikhailov were sentenced to 14 and 22 years in prison on the same charges. Russian media reported in 2017 that the group was suspected of providing U.S. officials with information about Russian military intelligence hacking of the Democratic National Committee — though the allegation was never officially included in their charges.

Moscow City Court sentenced Fomchenkov to seven years in a maximum-security prison on charges of treason for leaking information to the U.S. on the Russian founder of the Chronopay payment system, Interfax reported Monday.

Fomchenkov avoided the minimum sentence of 12 years for state treason by pleading guilty and testifying against Mikhailov and Stoyanov, the Kommersant business daily reported on Tuesday.

The case was classified and the trial held behind closed doors.

The three suspects, in addition to Mikhailov’s colleague Dmitry Dokuchayev, were arrested in December 2016 shortly after the U.S. accused Russia of trying to influence its presidential election through hacking.

Russia has denied accusations of election interference, so trying the men for passing on information about election meddling — even behind closed doors — would be a tacit admission of guilt, the Bell outlet reported.

Dokuchayev — the last of the suspects who has not yet been sentenced — has also pleaded guilty. Dokuchayev was charged with other alleged accomplices by the U.S. in 2017 for hacking millions of Yahoo email accounts.

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