Russian Academician, charged with espionage, faces the prospect of 20 years in a labour camp

The trial of a Russian military specialist accused of treason opened on Monday. Igor Suchagin is accused of passing military secrets to a British consultancy firm which Russian secret police believe was a cover for Western intelligence. The case has sent shockwaves through the Russian academic world. Mr Suchagin worked as a senior research fellow at Moscow's prestigious Institute for the USA and Canadian Studies. He claims to have had no access to classified information, but Russia's state security service, the FSB, accuses him of passing military secrets to a firm called Alternative Futures, BBC announces. Mr Suchagin admits to having been hired by the company, even visiting it in Britain, but he denies revealing any secrets and insists that the information he provided on the state of the Russian military was in the public domain. The case has raised fears that the FSB may be attempting to clamp down on contacts between Russian academics and Western organisations. Evidence in the trial, which is taking place 200km south of Moscow, is classified, and the case will be heard behind closed doors. If found guilty, Mr Suchagin faces the prospect of 20 years in a labour camp. The reason for the adjournment until Tuesday was not immediately clear.

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