Russian cybersecurity chief jailed for 14 years for treason

11 months ago 20

Ilya Sachkov who helped found one of Russia’s most prominent cybersecurity firms was accused of passing information to foreign spies.

Published On 26 Jul 2023

A Russian court has jailed for 14 years a top cybersecurity executive for treason in a case which centred on allegations he had passed classified information to foreign spies.

Following a closed-door trial, the AFP news agency quoted Judge Alexander Rybak as saying on Wednesday, “The court found Ilya Sachkov guilty under Article 275 of Russia’s Criminal Code and sentenced him to 14 years in prison with the sentence to be served in a strict regime penal colony.”

Last week, prosecutors requested that Sachkov be sentenced to 18 years in jail.

Few details have been made public since treason cases in Russia are typically classified.

Sachkov, who denied wrongdoing, helped found Group-IB in 2003, once one of Russia’s most prominent cybersecurity firms. Earlier this year, it cut ties with its original market and now has its headquarters in Singapore.

While he is no longer associated with the company, he owns a share in its former Russian business and was arrested in September 2021 by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

Ilya SachkovMedia representatives gather in front of screens as they show Group-IB cybersecurity firm co-founder Ilya Sachkov, 37, charged with treason, as he sits inside a defendant’s cage during his verdict hearing at the Moscow City Court [Alexander Nemenov/AFP]

The tech businessman is the latest among many people, including scientists, soldiers, officials and a former journalist, to face the charge in recent years.

A year before his arrest, Sachkov ruffled feathers after he stood up at an event attended by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

In a televised speech, Sachkov accused authorities of allowing a prominent Russian criminal hacker to go about his business unimpeded, criticised the appointment of someone he said was a former spy to a body covering the export of advanced technologies, and accused Russian President Vladimir Putin’s cybersecurity envoy of making toxic statements.

But following his conviction, Sachkov’s former colleagues, who bought Group-IB’s Russian business and renamed it FACCT, said in a statement that his legal team would appeal his conviction and ask Putin to intervene.

In a statement, the company wrote, “While he remains wrongfully imprisoned, we will continue to stand up against injustice and operate our business with the same mission in mind – to fight against cybercrime.”

At the time of his arrest, the firm was focused on investigating high-tech crimes and online fraud, including in Russia, with a global client base that included banks, energy companies, telecoms firms and Interpol.



Al Jazeera and news agencies

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