Russia detains head of cybercrime group on treason charges

30 September 2021 | International

NAMPA/AFP

MOSCOW

A Moscow court yesterday ordered the co-founder of one of Russia's leading cybersecurity firms, Group-IB, to be detained on charges of treason.

Founded in 2003, Group-IB specialises in the detection and prevention of cyberattacks and works with Interpol and several other global institutions.

Moscow's Lefortovsky district court ordered the group's 35-year-old co-founder and director, Ilya Sachkov, to be held in pre-trial custody for two months on treason charges, the court's press service said.

It did not provide details of the charges.

Treason cases in Russia, which carry sentences of 12 to 20 years behind bars, are typically classified.

Also yesterday, Group-IB said its Moscow headquarters had been searched the previous morning.

"Top management and legal services are working to clarify the situation," the group said in a statement.

In addition to Moscow, Group-IB has offices in Amsterdam, Dubai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Hanoi, according to its website.

Arrests

Sachkov co-founded Group-IB when he was just 17 and he was featured on the Forbes ‘30 under-30’ list of tech entrepreneurs in 2016.

Three years later, he received an "innovative breakthrough" award from president Vladimir Putin "for developments in the field of identifying and preventing cyberthreats", according to the Kremlin's website.

Moscow in recent years has faced numerous allegations of cyberattacks on Western countries that resulted in multiple sanctions and the expulsion of its diplomats.

At home, a growing number of Russians have been accused of high treason or disclosing state secrets.

In August, Russia arrested the head of a research institute specialising in hypersonic technologies on charges of treason. He was accused of passing "secret information" related to his research to a "foreign citizen".

In another high-profile case, Ivan Safronov, a former journalist specialising in defence, was arrested in July 2020 and charged with treason.

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