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Russian Physicist Sentenced to 12 Years for Treason

Anatoly Gubanov.

A Moscow court has sentenced a physicist who worked on hypersonic development to 12 years in a penal colony on treason charges, the independent Mediazona news website reported Friday. 

Anatoly Gubanov, 66, is the former head of the Aerodynamics of Aircrafts and Rockets Department at the Moscow region’s Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI). 

He was detained in December 2020 and accused of passing secret hypersonic development materials to colleagues from the Netherlands with whom he collaborated on the HEXAFLY-INT, the world’s first civil hypersonic airliner.

Gubanov pleaded guilty and asked the judge for a penalty below the minimum sentence of 12 years, a request that was denied, Mediazona reported. 

Treason charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

Russian authorities claim that Gubanov conspired with his colleague and fellow physicist Valery Golubkin, 70, who was also employed on the project and arrested on treason charges in April 2021.

Golubkin, who denied the charges against him, was sentenced to 12 years in prison in June. 

According to the Perviy Otdel human rights project, project reports passed by Gubanov and Golubkin to their Dutch colleagues had been examined by three specialized commissions prior to submission. 

None of these commissions found state secrets in the reports, Perviy Otdel said.

Several Russian scientists have been jailed in recent years in what critics say is a reflection of the state’s increasing paranoia toward scientific cooperation with foreign countries.

The scientific community has warned that treason cases against scientists will have a chilling effect on young researchers.

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