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Russian laser scientist dies two days after he was arrested for treason

Russian laser scientist dies two days after he was arrested for treason
  • Sick scientist caught in hospital bed
  • The family says the ‘ridiculous’ accusation was based on lectures in China
  • The lawyer plans to file a legal complaint

LONDON (Reuters) – A Russian scientist arrested in Siberia last week on suspicion of treason and flown to Moscow despite suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer has died, lawyers and a family member said on Sunday.

Physicist Dmitry Kolker, 54, was taken from his hospital bed, where he was fed through a tube, and put on a more than four-hour flight to Moscow, where lawyers said he was taken to Lefortovo prison and later died in a nearby hospital.

His cousin, Anton Dyanov, told Reuters from the United States that the accusation against the laser specialist that he had betrayed China’s state secrets was unreasonable.

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“He was a scientist, he loved his country, he was working in his country despite the many invitations from leading universities and laboratories to go to work abroad. He wanted to work in Russia, he wanted to teach students there,” he said.

“These charges are too absurd, too cruel and unusual to be imposed on such a sick man. They knew he was on his deathbed and chose to arrest him.”

The family and lawyers said Kolker was arrested, and his home searched, by the FSB. They said the treason charges – which carry a sentence of up to 20 years – are based on lectures Kolker gave in China, although the content was approved by the FSB.

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Reuters did not receive a response to an emailed request for comment from the FSB.

Lawyer Alexander Fedulov told Reuters he tried to contact the authorities on Kolker’s behalf but was removed from the FSB Investigation Department and from prison.

He said he would file a legal complaint on Monday about the circumstances of Kolker’s arrest.

On Saturday, the official TASS news agency said that Russia had detained a second scientist in Novosibirsk on suspicion of state treason. It was not clear if the two cases were related. Read more

A number of Russian scientists have been arrested and accused of treason in recent years for allegedly passing sensitive materials to foreigners. Kremlin critics say the arrests often stem from unfounded paranoia.

Cousin Dianov said Kolker was also a very accomplished concert pianist and organist and had performed in both Russia and Europe.

Fighting back tears, he said, “For me, someone who has been producing such beautiful things cannot do what they accuse them of. And that I will remember forever.” “This is what Dima is for me and the rest of the family.”

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(Reuters Report Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.