Russian news agencies are reporting that former members of the Russian domestic security agency and a cybersecurity expert have been formally charged with treason.
Reports emerged last week that three officials of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and an executive for cybersecurity company Kaspersky Labs had been arrested for treason. Government officials haven’t commented on the case, according to The Associated Press.
Speculation on the arrests ranges from fallout from alleged Russian hacking of the U.S. presidential election to a power struggle within Russia’s security services.
Ivan Pavlov, a lawyer specializing in treason cases, was quoted by the Interfax and state Tass news agencies as saying that FSB officials Sergei Mikhailov and Dmitry Dokuchayev, and Kaspersky’s Ruslan Stoyanov, were charged on Wednesday.
Pavlov has told The Associated Press that he represents the fourth, unnamed arrestee.
“Everyone involved in the case is charged with treason, and in fact, this is the only article, no other charges,” Pavlov said, reported the Tass news agency, which is operated by the Russian government.
The FSB’s Department of Investigation is heading the probe into the case.
“The name of CIA does not appear in the case, only the country (is mentioned),” Tass quotes Pavlov as saying. “Yes, we are in fact talking about America, but not about the CIA.”
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dimitry Peskov, denied any connection between the people charged with treason and Russia’s alleged hacking of the U.S. election, CBS News reported. Moscow has denied the allegations of hacking.
“No matters of this sort can have any relation to such absurd insinuations (of Russian cyber meddling in the U.S. election process) or, as we have already said, we categorically deny any assertions about the possible complicity of the Russian side in any hacking attacks,” Peskov told Tass.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.