Key Witness: Russia Treason Trial Will Defuse US Hacking Hysteria

russia treason trial, sergei mikhailovA key witness in the secritive Russian treason trial involving Sergei Mikhailov, left, a former deputy director of the computer crimes unit of the F.S.B., and Ruslan Stoyanov, a senior researcher at an antivirus company, said that the case could help defuse U.S.-Russia tensions. | Source: AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin

The conviction of two former, high-ranking Russian cybersecurity officials for undisclosed acts of treason last month underscores deteriorating cybercrime cooperation between Washington and Moscow, as U.S.-Russia tensions have spiked to their highest levels since the Cold War.

At the heart of this intrigue are Colonel Sergei Mikhailov, a former deputy director of the computer crimes unit of the Federal Security Service (FSB), and Ruslan Stoyanov, a senior researcher at Kaspersky Lab, a cybersecurity firm.

On February 26th, the Moscow Regional Military Court sentenced Mikhailov to 22 years in a penal colony on two counts of treason (Article 275 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), and Stoyanov to 14 years of jail on one count of treason. Both men maintained their innocence throughout the trial.

Russian Treason Trial Kept Under Wraps Through Secretive Legal Proceedings

The secretive legal proceedings were closed to the media until the day of the verdict, when a judge allowed journalists into the courtroom to hear him sentence the defendants, without ever explaining the nature of their crimes.

Despite the clandestinity of the military courts charges, speculation has swirled that the case against both men is linked to the notorious hack of the 2016 U.S. election. The prevailing narrative in Russian media is that the defendants leaked information about the hacking of Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), drawing the Kremlins ire.

Adding credibility to this claim is Ivan Pavlov, previously a lawyer for a defendant arrested in the same case as Mikhailov and Stoyanov. Pavlov told CNN that both men were involved in a two-year-long campaign of treason on behalf of the United States.

Moreover, an informed source told Russian news outlet Interfax that the defendants transferred confidential information to U.S. intelligence services – in particular, the CIA, leading a double game and disguising their contacts with foreigners as pseudo-recruiting activities.

Additionally, Russian newspaper Kommersant reported unverified claims that the defendants received as much as $10 million for sharing government documents with American security services.

While their exact crimes rema ...

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Tags: Russia, Treason Trial, Security hacker, United States of America, treason, It, Ruslan Stoyanov, Hack, Sergei Mikhailov, Pavel Vrublevsky