A Russian court has convicted a retired colonel of spying for the United States, Russia’s intelligence agency has said.
Col Vladimir Lazar was sentenced to 12 years at a high security jail by the Moscow City Court on Thursday and stripped of his military rank, the Associated Press reports.
Prosecutors had accused him of handing over computer disks containing thousands of images of printed maps to a US spy, Alexander Lesment, in Belarus, who then passed them on to the Pentagon.
In a statement released Thursday, the Federal Security Service (FSB) said that Col Vladimir Lazar, “acting on the orders of American military spy Lesment, acquired and passed on a significant quantity of topographic maps and images, containing information deemed to be of state secret nature,” according to RIA Novosti.
RIA Novosti reported that Lazar had admitted to having spied for Washington.
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According to the BBC, last month a spokesperson for Russian prosecutors claimed that Lazar had been a student with Lesment during the 1970s at a military topographic command school in St Petersburg (then known as Leningrad).
His conviction comes after a series of arrests in Russia linking different individuals to spying activities. Earlier in May a court in the central city of Yekaterinburg sentenced Alexander Gniteyev, an employee at a Russian defense plant, to eight years in a high-security prison for espionage, without giving further details of his crime.
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