A Russian scientist has died after he was arrested on suspicion of state treason and flown to Moscow despite "being on his deathbed", according to a family member and lawyers.
54-year-old physicist Dmitry Kolker - a laser specialist - was suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer and was being fed through a tube in a hospital in Siberia before he was arrested. Mr Kolker was put onto a flight of more than four hours to Moscow and taken to Lefortovo prison according to lawyers, before dying in a hospital close by.
Kolker was arrested after being accused of betraying state secrets to China.
Anton Dianov, Mr Kolker's cousin, said the allegations made against the physicist were "absolutely ridiculous". He said: "He was a scientist, he loved his country, he was working in his country despite many invitations from leading universities and labs to go and work abroad. "He wanted to work in Russia, he wanted to teach students there. "These charges are absolutely ridiculous and extremely cruel and unusual to be levied on such a sick man. "They knew that he was on his deathbed and they chose to arrest him."
When Mr Kolker was detained, his house was then searched by the FSB security service according to his family and lawyers. They added that the treason charges - which carry a sentence of up to 20 years - were based on lectures he had given in China, even though the content had all been approved prior by the FSB.
Lawyer Alexander Fedulov said that he had made attempts to contact the authorities on the behalf of Mr Kolker but had been turned away from the prison and the FSB investigative department.
Mr Fedulov said that he would be filing a legal complaint about the circumstances surrounding the detention of Mr Kolker.