A Russian cybersecurity researcher and two officers of the former KGB have been charged with committing treason for the United States, an attorney for one of them said Wednesday, clarifying recent reports involving a wave of sudden arrests connected to Moscow’s cybersecurity and intelligence communities alike.
Ruslan Stoyanov of Kaspersky Labs and Sergei Mikhailov and Dmitry Dokuchayev of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) have been “charged with state treason and cooperating with U.S. intelligence services,” attorney Ivan Pavlov told Reuters.
All three were arrested in December and identified last week as facing charges of treason, but only now has it emerged that they’re accused of aiding the U.S. government.
“All the suspects have been charged with high treason. This is the sole count in the case. There are no other accusations,” Mr. Pavlov told Tass, a Russian government-controlled news wire.
Mr. Pavlov declined to state which of the men he represents, and described his client to the Associated Press as a fourth, unnamed individual arrested in connection to a treason case otherwise cloaked largely in secrecy. Separate reports indicate Vladimir Anikeev, a journalist, was recently arrested on potentially related hacking charges.
Mr. Stoyanov served as the head of Kaspersky’s computer incidents investigations unit before he was arrested in December, according to the Moscow-based security firm.
Russian media meanwhile has identified Mr. Mikhailov and Mr. Dokuchayev as officers of the agency’s Center for Information Security, an elite FSB cyberintelligence unit that researchers have previously tied to intrusions suffered by various U.S. political targets prior to last year’s White House race.
The U.S. intelligence community has concluded with high confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed hackers to infiltrate Democratic targets during the run-up to last year’s race while conducting an influence campaign aimed at electing Donald Trump to the White House, the Obama administration said last month. The Kremlin has repeatedly rejected the assertion, and reiterated its stance Wednesday amid speculation surrounding the recently unveiled treason probe.
“No matters of this sort can have any relation to such absurd insinuations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the hacking campaign, Tass reported. “As we have already said, we categorically deny any assertions about the possible complicity of the Russian side in any hacking attacks.”