Russia arrests Estonian businessman on spying charges

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Russian special services last week arrested an Estonian citizen, Raivo Susi, and are investigating the activities of the businessman who engaged in the purchase and sale of training aircraft as alleged espionage, Interfax said.

«R. Susi was detained in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo airport on Thursday, February 11. After the detention he was made a proposal to proceed to Lubyanka. On the following day the Lefortovo court remanded him in custody for two months. As of now he has been charged with espionage on the basis of Article 276 of the Penal Code of the Russian Federation. The event connected with the charges took place in 2004-2007,» the lawyer for the Estonian citizen, Anatoly Tolpegin, told the Russian news agency.

The lawyer said that during the first days following the arrest Susi was represented by a court-appointed lawyer. His family did not know about his whereabouts for almost a week.

Susi is being held in Lefortovo prison. Tolpegin said it was still too early to speculate on what direction the investigation could take as no procedural acts had been conducted. The defense has contested the custody order for the accused, but it isn't clear when the court will handle it.

According to the lawyer, Susi has categorically rejected all accusations and says he considers himself hostage of a political wrangle between Estonia and Russia.

«Susi finds that the charges filed against him are related not to his actions but to political and diplomatic reasons,» Tolpegin said, adding that the businessman has not refused to give testimony.

Information available from online sources shows Susi as owner of several companies in Estonia that engage in the assembly, maintenance, repair and sale of training jet aircraft. His customers were millionaires, members of the aviation clubs of Russia, Britain, the U.S. and Western Europe, Interfax said.

According to one source, «Susi has hauled to the West a squadron's worth of training fighter jets since 1994, enough to supply the whole Estonian air force.»

Interfax did not have a comment from the special services of Russia.