MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia has demanded that the United States cancel a request to extradite a Russian state executive from Italy where he was arrested last month at Washington’s request on suspicion of industrial espionage, calling it illegal.
Alexander Korshunov, director for business development at Russia’s United Engine Corporation (UEC), was detained at an airport in Naples on Aug. 30 after Washington issued a warrant for his arrest.
UEC produces engines for civil and military aircraft as well as power turbines.
The U.S. Department of Justice said on Thursday it had charged Korshunov and Maurizio Paolo Bianchi, an Italian national, with conspiring and attempting to steal trade secrets from an American company called GE Aviation.
It said the two men had hired current or former employees of GE Aviation’s Italian subsidiary to do consulting work related to jet engine accessory gear boxes which allegedly drew on trade secrets owned by GE Aviation.
Russia’s embassy in the United States said late on Thursday it had issued a diplomatic protest to the U.S. State Department over Korshunov’s arrest and demanded Washington swiftly drop its extradition request against him.
Russian President Vladimir Putin complained on Thursday that the U.S. move, which he suggested was motivated by unfair competition, would harm ties with the United States.
Italy’s foreign ministry has declined to comment on the case.
Conspiring to and attempting to steal trade secrets is punishable by up to 10 years in prison in the United States.
Russia has repeatedly criticised the United States for requesting that Russian citizens be detained in third countries.
(Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by William Maclean)