Russia convicts colonel of exposing US spy ring - (Read Full Story)
A Moscow military court on Monday handed down a 25-year sentence to a top Russian foreign intelligence agent who was convicted in absentia of exposing a "sleeper cell" network in the United States.
Colonel Alexander Poteyev received a 20-year sentence for high treason and another five years for desertion, a spokeswoman for the Moscow District Military Court told AFP.
Poteyev is unlikely to spend time in a Russian jail because he is thought to be hiding in the United States after leaving behind his wife and dramatically fleeing Moscow by night train.
"Poteyev's actions delivered a considerable blow to Russia's national security," the Interfax news agency quoted the presiding judge as telling the closed-door hearing.
Security analysts said the cell's detection last summer inflicted severe damage to Russia's foreign intelligence efforts and revealed weaknesses in a surveillance programme that had been Moscow's pride since Soviet times.