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Russian scientist convicted of spying on European rockets in Germany

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
The defendant was found guilty of passing on information on Europe's Ariane 5 rocket that will launch it to space from Europe's Ariane space launcher.
The defendant was found guilty of passing on information on Europe's Ariane 5 rocket that will launch it to space from Europe's Ariane space launcher.   -   Copyright  M.Pedoussaut/ESA via AP, File

A Russian research assistant has been given a one-year suspended sentence for spying in Germany. 

The defendant - identified only as Ilnur N. - was found guilty of passing information about European rockets onto Russian intelligence.

He had worked as a research assistant for a science and technology professor at the University of Augsburg from 2018 until he was arrested in June last year.

Prosecutors said the defendant met regularly with a handler for the Russian foreign intelligence service (SVR) and passed on information about aerospace research products, particularly the various development stages of Europe's Ariane space launcher.

He allegedly received a total of €2,500 euros in cash, the court in Munich state heard.

When his trial opened in February, the 30-year-old told the court he was not an agent and claimed he had given publicly accessible information to an employee of the Russian consulate in Munich.

The defendant also argued that he did not know about the consulate’s links to Russian intelligence.

But the court handed Ilnur N. a one-year suspended sentence and also fined him €500 for "acting as a secret agent."

Judges noted that the information he had passed on had "no visible damage to the Federal Republic of Germany and the research institutes established there".

The trial comes against a backdrop of high tension between Russia and the West following the invasion of Ukraine.