Russia arrests top hypersonic missile scientist on treason charge ‘for passing secrets to a NATO country’ it emerges after British embassy security guard is seized in Germany for ‘spying for Kremlin’
- Alexander Kuranov has been arrested in Moscow accused of spying for the West
- 73-year-old is a top Russian rocket scientist working on its hypersonic missiles
- He is accused of passing information on the missiles to unnamed NATO country
- Comes after Briton David Smith, a security guard at the country’s embassy in Germany, was accused of passing information to a Kremlin agent
Alexander Kuranov, 73, a Russian rocket scientist, has been arrested and accused of spying for the West
Russia has detained one of its top hypersonic scientists on suspicion of high treason.
Professor Alexander Kuranov, 73, was held by the FSB counterintelligence service which accuses him of passing secrets to an unspecified NATO country.
He is due in Lefortovo court in Moscow today and is expected to be detained for two months pending investigations.
His arrest comes after Briton David Smith, a security guard at the British embassy in Germany, was taken for questioning on suspicion of passing confidential information to the Kremlin.
Smith – described by neighbours as short, overweight and a man who kept himself to himself – is accused of passing classified terrorism documents to a Russian spy.
His arrest comes as Russia is rushing forward its deployment of new-age hypersonic missiles as part of a major modernisation of the Kremlin’s military machine overseen by Vladimir Putin.
Kuranov is a key figure in developing hypersonic technologies in Russia, but the FSB – formerly known as the KGB – believes he passed classified data to a Western intelligence source.
He is the general director and chief designer of the Scientific Research Enterprise of Hypersonic Systems (NIPGS).
Kuranov was one of Russia’s top scientists working on its hypersonic missile programme (pictured, a test of the hypersonic Zircon missile)
An FSB source said: ‘During the operational-search activities in the capital, the FSB officers detained the general director of the NIPGS Alexander Kuranov.
‘Investigators plan to ask the court to ask for his arrest for two months.’
Open sources show Kuranov also to be Professor of the Department of Control Systems and Technologies of St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University, and general director of the Hypersonic Systems Research Institute of ‘Leninetz’ Holding Company .
He is author of over 120 scientific papers, including patents and copyright certificates.
For many years he has been the organiser of the Russian-American International Symposium ‘Thermochemical and Plasma Processes in Aerodynamics’
Meanwhile Smith has been arrested in Postdam, near Berlin, accused of accepting a pile of cash to pass classified terrorism information to a Kremlin spy.
Smith, 57, was charged on Tuesday for handing over information obtained from the British embassy in Berlin.
The purported spy worked as a security guard inside the building and would have had access to the counter-terrorism tactics which would be deployed in the event of an attack.
Russia’s hypersonic missiles have often been used for bragging rights by Putin, who claims they cannot be stopped by any current technology
Such details would be invaluable to enemy agents looking for weaknesses at an embassy in a city where Russian espionage is rife.
Smith was monitored by MI5, Scotland Yard and German intelligence for months before he was arrested, sources said.
A succession of senior – and often elderly – Russian academics have been detained on suspicion of spying for the West in recent years.
For many years Kuranov was the organiser of the Russian-American International Symposium ‘Thermochemical and Plasma Processes in Aerodynamics’.
Russia has this week announced that its state trials on its new Tsirkon or Zircon hypersonic missile will be completed this year.
Its new Project 885M class submarine Severodvinsk is to test-fire the Tsirkon cruise missile around the end of August as part of this process.
Flight tests of its new deadly hypersonic 208-ton ‘Satan-2’ – known to the Russians as Sarmat- intercontinental ballistic missile will also begin soon.
The 15,880mph hypersonic weapon will become the biggest beast in Vladimir Putin’s modernised nuclear arsenal following the state trials.