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Moscow court extends arrest of former Inter RAO board member charged with espionage

The hearing was held behind closed doors

MOSCOW, November 9. /TASS/. Moscow’s Lefortovsky District Court has extended the arrest of Karina Tsurkan, a former board member of the Inter RAO energy company charged with espionage, for another three months, a TASS correspondent reported from the courtroom.

"The court hereby extends defendant Tsurkan’s arrest for three months, until February 14, 2019," the court’s judge said.

The hearing was held behind closed doors as the case involves classified information.

Tsurkan’s defense attorneys had requested the court replace Tsurkan’s arrest with a more lenient measure of restraint.

According to investigators, a Moldovan intelligence agency recruited Tsurkan in August 2004. In late April 2015, she got hold of a digital version "of a document drafted by the Energy Ministry, which concerned Russian energy companies’ international cooperation." On September 29, 2015, Tsurkan passed the document to the Moldovan intelligence agency. However, she pleaded not guilty and claimed she had never been acquainted with any foreign intelligence officers and never seen the document in question.

The woman is charged under Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code (espionage) and may face up to 20 years if found guilty. According to the Russian law, espionage charges are brought only against foreign nationals, while Russian citizens are charged with high treason in such cases.

According to diplomatic sources, Tsurkan renounced her Moldovan citizenship and obtained a Romanian passport. However, she said earlier that she was a Russian national.

Inter RAO’s website says that Tsurkan, a graduate of Moldova’s Free International University and Spain’s Graduate Institute (IUP), became head of the company’s trading division in 2012.