LONDON, May 24 (Reuters) - The director of a top Russian science institute, arrested on suspicion of treason along with two other hypersonic missile technology experts, stands accused of betraying secrets to China, two people familiar with the case told Reuters.
Alexander Shiplyuk, head of Siberia's Khristianovich Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (ITAM), is suspected of handing over classified material at a scientific conference in China in 2017, the sources said.
The 56-year-old maintains his innocence and insists the information in question wasn't classified and was freely available online, according to the people, whom Reuters has chosen not to identify to safeguard their security.
"He is convinced of the fact that the information was not secret, and of his own innocence," one of the people said.
The nature of the allegations against the ITAM director, who was arrested last August, has not been previously reported. The Chinese connection would make Shiplyuk the latest in a string of Russian scientists who have been arrested in recent years for allegedly betraying secrets to Beijing.