Russian Cyber Treason Case Takes Another Turn

The treason case against two Russian security officers and a cybersecurity consultant brought in December is the result of allegations made by an online payments firm seven years ago, it has emerged.

Ruslan Stoyanov, head of Kaspersky Lab’s Computer Incidents Investigation Team, was arrested two months ago along with Federal Security Service (FSB) officers Sergei Mikhailov and Dmitry Dokuchayev – although little has been heard of them since.

It was initially thought that they may have been arrested in connection with an incendiary dossier compiled by a former MI6 man about US President Donald Trump, alleging the Kremlin has compromising material on him.

However, Pavel Vrublevsky, founder of online payments firm ChronoPay, told Reuters that the arrests were made in connection with allegations he made in 2010 that Stoyanov and Mikhailov had passed secrets to US firms which then made their way into the hands of intelligence officials.

“I can confirm we [Chronopay] expect to be part of this case. In 2010 we provided the FSB and other important Russian agencies with evidence that at least one FSB employee, as well as several other people, were involved in treason,” he told the newswire.

Vrublevsky was apparently arrested after he first made the allegations in 2010, on charges relating to a cyber-attack against a rival company, which he denies any involvement in. He believes the charges were brought in part as a result of information illegally leaked by the duo.

A “source connected to the investigation” has confirmed his version of events, but the US company who is alleged to have received the ‘secrets’ denied any impropriety.

Although Verisign’s iDefense unit occasionally works with the intelligence services, and knew former FSB man Stoyanov, it denied that the info it received contained classified information.

“Nothing like the arrangement as described by Pavel Vrublevsky ever took place,” said former iDefense analyst, Kimberly Zenz. Her sentiments were backed up by vice-president Joshua Ray, who said the info was unclassified.

The latest developments would seem to partly confirm previous reports that the aim of the arrests was to send a signal to Russian cyber experts to stop co-operating with their American counterparts.

The source also told Reuters that in Russia the authorities sometimes resurrect old charges if they suspect individuals of new crimes.

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