Russian engineer jailed for three years for spying in Denmark

Russian engineer jailed for three years for spying in Denmark
People studyiing one of SerEnergy's fuel cells at a trade fair in China. These people are not accused of espionage. Photo: SerEnergy
A Danish court on Monday sentenced a Russian man to three years in prison followed by expulsion from Denmark with no possibility of return, after he was found guilty of espionage.

Aleksey Nikoforov, 36, was arrested in July 2020, but his case only came to light in December.

At the end of the closed trial, the Aalborg court said he had “gathered information over several years from the Technical University of Denmark and from a business in the northwest of the country, and transmitted this information to a Russian intelligence service in exchange for payment”.

SerEnergy, a Danish company specialising in fuel cells, confirmed having employed the accused and the court described him as particularly interested in “energy technology”.

Moscow called the trial a “witch hunt” and an example of “anti-Russia hysteria”, describing the man in question as “a Russian expert in Denmark”.

The case has been conducted behind closed doors, so very few details have been made public. 

“The presentation of evidence took place behind closed doors. This means that I cannot reproduce the specific grounds for the decision,” said presiding judge Helle Dietz when she read out the verdict. “But I can say that the jury was unanimous.”

Nikoforov has pleaded not guilty, and although not present at the sentencing, gave a message though his lawyer afterwards that he was appealing the ruling. 

“It is shocking that a former employee is being prosecuted in such a serious case, and that our company may have been a victim of organized espionage,” the company said in a statement when news of Nikorov’s arrest was released in December. 

This is not the first time that Russian intelligence activities have been discovered in Denmark. 

In 2012, a Finnish professor from the University of Copenhagen was convicted of providing information to the Russian intelligence service FSB.

The professor had given the Russians security policy assessments as well as names of political science students he judged the Russians could be successful in recruiting. The Finnish professor was sentenced to five months in prison.


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