MOSCOW, May 3 - RAPSI, Vladimir Yaduta. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) awarded 20,000 euro to Igor Sutyagin, who was convicted in Russia of spying and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Sutyagin appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in July 2002. Six years later, on July 2008, the court accepted his appeal to consider whether the permissible pretrial detention period had been exceeded without good reason, complaints that his trial lacked independence and impartiality, and violations of Article 7 (no punishment without law) and Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Sutyagin had claimed 300,000 euro in indemnity for moral anguish. He said in his statement that although he was not guilty, his long detention had caused serious mental suffering comparable to physical pain and torture. He also mentioned that his health had deteriorated.

The Strasbourg court judged that two paragraphs of the convention had been violated, namely, Paragraph 5, Article 5, as far as the period of the claimant's pretrial detention was concerned, and Paragraph 1, Article 6, regarding the reasonable timeline of criminal proceedings in his case, as well as the extent of the independence and impartiality of the first instance court.

Sutyagin, a former policy section head at the Institute of the United States and Canada’s Foreign Policy Studies Department under the Russian Academy of Sciences, was charged with passing classified information to the British Alternative Futures consulting firm. The firm was a cover for U.S. intelligence services and had nothing to do with scientific activity, the Federal Security Service reported. 

On April 7, 2004, Sutyagin was found guilty of high treason and sentenced to 15 years in a maximum security penal colony.

Together with other three persons convicted of spying in Russia at different times – Gennady Vasilenko, Sergey Skripal and Alexander Zaporozhsky – Sutyagin was swapped in July for 10 Russians detained in the United States in late June on charges of spying for Russia. The exchange took place in Vienna. Presently, Sutyagin lives in London.