Scientist dies after being pulled from hospital bed on espionage charges

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A renowned Russian scientist with terminal cancer died two days after being taken from his hospital bed on espionage charges, his family said on Sunday.

Dmitry Kolker, 54, died on Saturday in a Moscow hospital.

He had been transferred to the hospital from a prison in the capital, according to a message from the authorities published by his son, Maxim Kolker, on the social network VKontakte.

Russian scientist Kolker held in spy probe dies of cancer https://t.co/fCclB0C4hH

— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) July 3, 2022

Two days earlier, a court in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk said Kolker had been arrested and remanded in custody for two months.

The court said he was accused of "state treason" and "espionage" for a "foreign state," a crime punishable by 20 years in prison.

His family says he was arrested by security service agents from the FSB at a clinic in Novosibirsk where he was being treated for terminal cancer, then transferred to Moscow, despite his state of health.

"The FSB killed my father, they knew what state he was in, but they took him out of the hospital," Maxim Kolker wrote on VKontakte on Sunday.

"Thank you my country!!! His family didn't even have permission to say goodbye to him," he added.

His cousin, Anton Dianov, told Reuters from the U.S. that the allegations against Kolker were "ridiculous."

"He was a scientist, he loved his country, he was working in his country despite many invitations from leading universities and labs to go work abroad. He wanted to work in Russia, he wanted to teach students there," he said. "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."

A specialist in lasers, Kolker headed a laboratory on "quantum and optical technologies," according to Novosibirsk State University's website. According to his son, he was suspected of espionage after participating in an international conference in China.

During this conference, he said, he was permanently accompanied by an FSB agent to ensure he did not give away any sensitive information.

In Russia, scientists are regularly accused and convicted of espionage.

Dianov told Reuters that Kolker was also a highly accomplished concert pianist and organist.

"To me, somebody who was producing such beautiful things could not have done what they accuse him of. And that's forever how I'm going to remember him," he said.

Novosibirsk scientist Dmitry Kolker, pulled out of hospital 7am on 30 June, arrested for suspected state treason & flown to Moscow died on 2 July. ‘They killed my father. Thank you country’, said Dmitry’s son. Video of Dmitry playing Dieterich Buxtehude Toccata in Dminor in 2018 pic.twitter.com/RZhM7ujZN8

— The Siberian Times (@siberian_times) July 3, 2022

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