Russian military officer jailed for passing missile secrets to CIA

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A RUSSIAN military officer has been convicted of passing missile secrets to the CIA and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

The Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor to the KGB, said Lt Col Vladimir Nesterets pleaded guilty to charges of passing classified data about missile tests to the CIA for money. It said Nesterets was convicted by a military court yesterday.

Nesterets worked as a senior engineer at Plesetsk launchpad in north-western Russia. The facility, run by the Russian military, is used both for launching satellites into orbit and for testing missiles.

A terse statement issued by the FSB did not say when Nesterets was arrested or give any further details.

The conviction comes amid growing tension in US-Russian relations, despite President Barack Obama’s efforts to “reset” them from strains that had developed during the previous US administration.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have worsened over a new US-led missile defence system being developed by Nato around Europe, and Russia teaming with China to block a UN Security Council resolution that would have urged Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also has been increasingly eager to challenge the US as he campaigns to reclaim his nation’s presidency in next month’s election.

He has accused Washington of fuelling the massive protests that have recently taken place against his rule in order to weaken the nation.

Earlier this week, President Dmitry Medvedev praised the Federal Security Service for exposing 41 foreign intelligent officers and 158 of their agents last year.