A Russian court has found former United States marine Paul Whelan guilty of spying for Washington, sentencing him to 16 years in jail after a closed trial which US diplomats say had been unfair and opaque.
Whelan, who holds US, British, Canadian and Irish passports, has been in custody since being detained by agents from Russia's Federal Security Service on December 28, 2018 in a Moscow hotel room.
Moscow said Whelan, 50, was caught red-handed with a computer flash drive containing classified information. Whelan, who pleaded not guilty, said he was set up in a sting and had thought the drive, given to him by a Russian acquaintance, contained holiday photos.
US diplomats have described the case as a "significant obstacle" to improving already poor bilateral ties and have repeatedly said there is no evidence against him and asked Russia to release him.
State prosecutors, who accused Whelan of being at least a ranking US military intelligence colonel, had asked the court to sentence Whelan to 18 years in a maximum security prison.
In a separate case, State prosecutors have charged a prominent Russian scientist with treason after accusing him of passing state secrets to China, his lawyer Ivan Pavlov said on Monday, saying his client could serve up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.
Valery Mitko, president of the Arctic Academy of Sciences in St Petersburg, has been under house arrest since being charged in February with high treason.
Pavlov said the 78-year-old academic travelled to China twice a year as a guest lecturer and denied handing state secrets to Chinese authorities.
Mitko did travel to China with documents for his lectures, but these contained academic and open source information only, Pavlov said.
"There were no state secrets in there at all. We consider these accusations to be absurd," Pavlov said, saying he hoped the case would be dismissed before trial.
A source told the Interfax news agency that Mitko has been accused of having given China information on ways to detect submarines.
Several Russian scientists have been charged with treason in recent years for allegedly handing sensitive material to foreigners. Critics of the Kremlin have said these arrests stem from unfounded paranoia.