Programs: Science and Policy
AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program
AAAS Human Rights Action Network
|Date:||12 November 2004|
|Subject:||Physicist Found Guilty|
|Issue:||Academic and scientific freedom|
|Type of alert:||Update|
|Related alerts:||3 May 2002; 2 October 2002; 7 January 2004; 10 June 2004; 3 December 2004|
FACTS OF THE CASE:
On 5 November 2004, a Krasnoyarsk jury convicted Dr. Valentin Danilov of espionage and embezzling funds. Dr. Danilov is the head of the Thermo-Physics Center at Krasnoyarsk State Technical University. He was arrested in February 2001 on charges of treason and fraud for allegedly selling top secret satellite information to a Chinese company. His research dealt with the effect of solar activity on space satellites. Dr. Danilov has consistently maintained that this information has been available in scientific journals and had been declassified for over 10 years. The fraud charges are linked to his payment in cash to contractors working on the research project. Although, making payments in cash does violate financial regulations, it is not an infraction that usually merits jail time in Russia.
Dr. Danilov’s case represents both the challenges and advances of the Russian legal system. His case is one of a series of so-called “spy cases” where scientists are targeted for selling or giving away state secrets in their research. The Russian security forces, known by its Russian acronym FSB, have targeted scientists who maintain foreign contacts or attempt to commercialize their research. Dr. Danilov’s original trial was one of the first jury trials in Russia. The use of juries is a new practice in the Russian courts, but is one still plagued by procedural irregularities and a lack of due process. For example, prosecutors have been able to ask leading questions of witnesses and frame information presented to juries in a way that ensures a desired outcome.
It seemed that the case would have a favorable ending when, in early 2004, Dr. Danilov was acquitted. However, a few months later, the Russian Supreme Court overturned the acquittal of espionage on procedural grounds, stating that the defense team had pressured jurors, a charge that the defense team strongly denies. According to defense lawyers, this most recent trial also had several irregularities. Dr. Danilov’s attorney stated that the judge framed the central questions to consider in such a way as to avoid the issue of whether the information used in the research was, in fact, secret. The lawyer was also unable to present testimony proving that the research in question had been publicly available for more than a decade. This information will be considered in a non-jury trial to be held shortly. If the judge finds Dr. Danilov guilty, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
The cases of Dr. Danilov and the other “spy cases” in Russia are of serious concern for the scientific community because science is an international enterprise that requires freedom of thought, expression and movement, and the freedom to pursue professional activities without interference.
(Sources of information for this case include: American Physical Society Committee for the International Freedom of Scientists and the The Moscow Times.)
RELEVANT HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- Article 14(1): All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals. In the determination of any criminal charge against him [or her], or of his [or her] rights and obligations in a suit at law, everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law.
- Article 19(1): Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
- Article 13: An alien lawfully in the territory of a State Party to the present Covenant may be expelled therefrom only in pursuance of a decision reached in accordance with law and shall, except where compelling reasons of national security otherwise require, be allowed to submit the reasons against his expulsion and to have his case reviewed by, and be represented for the purpose before, the competent authority or a person or persons especially designated by the competent authority.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Please send faxes, letters, or emails:
- Expressing your concern about the recent guilty verdict in the case of Dr. Valentin Danilov;
- Expressing concern at the apparent lack of evidence to support the charges of treason and fraud against Dr. Danilov, as the information he allegedly attempted to sell to a Chinese company has been publicly available in scientific journals and was declassified 10 years ago;
- Reminding the government of Russia that the scientific enterprise requires freedom of thought, expression and movement, and the freedom to pursue professional activities without interference, all of which are codified in the international human rights laws and standards that the government has pledged to uphold.
APPEAL AND INQUIRY MESSAGES SHOULD BE SENT TO:
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
President of Russia
Fax: (011) 7 095 206 5173 or 7 095 206 6277
Salutation: Your Excellency:
COPIES SENT TO:
Yuri V. Ushakov
Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the United States
Embassy of the Russian Federation to the United States
2650 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Fax: (202) 298-5737
Salutation: Dear Mr. Ambassador
Please send copies of your appeals, and any responses you may receive, or direct any questions you may have to Victoria Baxter, AAAS Science and Human Rights Program, 1200 New York Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20005; tel. 202-326-6797; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or fax 202-289-4950.
The keys to effective appeals are to be courteous and respectful, accurate and precise, impartial in approach, and as specific as possible regarding the alleged violation and the international human rights standards and instruments that apply to the situation. Reference to your scientific organization and professional affiliation is always helpful.
To ensure that appeals are current and credible, please do not continue to write appeals on this case after 90 days from the date of the posting unless an update has been issued.