Russian authorities have arrested two senior FSB cyber security officials and one employee of Kaspersky Lab, a cyber security firm with headquarters in Moscow, Russia. They are being charged with treason in favor of the interests of the United States.
Ivan Pavlov, a lawyer involved in the case, identified the charged men as Ruslan Stoyanov, a Kaspersky employee, and Sergei Mikhailov and Dmitry Dokuchayev, both FSB officers who specialized in cybersecurity. Pavlov, who was interviewed by Reuters and declined to say whom he was representing, has stated:
"My client, along with the others, has been charged with state treason and cooperating with US intelligence services."
Stoyanov was responsible for leading a team at Kaspersky which has been collaborating with the FSB since 2013. But, according to the company, that has confirmed Stoyanov's arrest, the charges are related to the employee's activities prior to 2012, when he joined Kaspersky Lab.
According to Rory Challands, from Al Jazeera, the three men were arrested by the end of last year with little more regarding specific reasons shared by the authorities, until now with the announcement of charges. This lack of information has led to some speculation about what they were doing, as stated by Challands:
"One is that when the CIA said that it had high confidence that Russia was behind the hacking of Democratic Party National Congress emails in the run-up to the US presidential elections, it was information from these guys that gave the CIA that high confidence."
Another theory, floated by Challands, was that the trio was selling information about important people to whoever paid them for it such as private buyers or foreign intelligence services.