Russia charges former US consulate contractor with high treason News
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Russia charges former US consulate contractor with high treason

The Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation announced a high treason charge on Monday against Robert Shonov, a former US consulate contract employee in Moscow. High treason carries a possible sentence of 12 to 20 years’ imprisonment.

The charge falls under Article 275 of Russia’s Criminal Code. The code forbids Russian citizens from disclosing state secrets or aiding foreign states “to the detriment of the external security of the Russian Federation.” Shonov, a Russian citizen, stands accused of collecting information for the US related to the special military operation in Ukraine. Additionally, FSB officials stated he provided the US with military mobilization data and information about possible political protests before the 2024 Russian presidential elections.

The US Department of State denied the claims in a statement released in May following Shonov’s arrest. Matthew Miller, a spokesperson for the State Department, said that “Shonov’s only role at the time of his arrest was to compile media summaries of press items from publicly available Russian media sources.” Miller qualified the task as in “strict compliance with Russia’s laws and regulations.” In the statement, the State Department accused Russia of using laws like Article 275 to repress its own citizens.

In July, Ilya Sachkov, a former prominent, Russian cybersecurity executive, was sentenced to fourteen years’ imprisonment for treason charges under Article 275. FSB officials accused him of passing information to foreign spies. His arrest came after he voiced criticisms regarding the Russian government’s response to ransomware attacks originating from its territory.

Sachkov spent two years in pre-trail detention before his conviction. A trial date for Shonov has not been announced.