The Russians have convicted one of their own military officers for passing on secrets to the CIA. Lt. Col. Vladimir Nesterets is going to prison after pleading guilty to selling classified information on Russia's new intercontinental ballistic missiles.
On Friday a Russian military court in Moscow sentenced Nesterets to 13 years in prison. There is some doubt as to whether Nesterets is guilty, however, as his wife, Irina Nesterets, told media her husband assured her that he did not betray Russia. She said she is mystified as to why he plead guilty.
"He wrote to me and said he had never done anything shameful, that he had not sold out his motherland," Irina Nesterets told the Russian news agency Ria-Novosti over the phone. "I believe him and everyone who knows him believes him and I don't know why he confessed to doing it."
Tensions between Russia and U.S.
The agency replacing the KGB in Russia, the Russian Federal Security Service, has said that the officer worked as a senior military engineer at a facility in northern Russia where the military launches satellites and tests missile systems. It is information gleaned while working there that Nesterets was charged and convicted of selling to the CIA.
Of late there has been a frosting in the relationship between Russia and the United States and some analysts say that the conviction may be a manner of creating a sense that the U.S. is actively trying to undermine Russia. This would help Russian president Vladamir Putin in his re-election bid as he seeks to portray himself as a strong leader who fights back against American intervention.
The government said it conducted the trial in secrecy because of national security issues.