Updated at 5:30 a.m. July 4 to include news of Dmitry Kolker’s death.
A Siberian spectral imaging scientist battling terminal cancer has been arrested in hospital and taken to Moscow for treason, the Tayga.info news site reported on Thursday.
He died in police custody two days later.
Dmitry Kolker, Ph.D., headed the Quantum Optical Technologies Laboratory at Novosibirsk State University, which is a partner of Germany’s Max Born Institute and France’s National Institute of Metrology.
“They took a sick man, who was practically dying and was feeding through a tube in his vein, from a private hospital,” his son Maxim Kolker told Tayga.info.
He said Kolker, 54, was accused of sharing state secrets with China.
Kolker was known for lecturing, including on laser spectroscopy and laser imaging, detection and ranging (Lidar), at a Chinese university.
“There was an FSB officer with him everywhere, who accompanied him to China, forbidding him to speak in English and to give the lecture in English,” said Maxim Kolker, referring to a Federal Security Service agent .
Novosibirsk’s Sovetsky District Court on Friday ordered Kolker to be remanded in custody until August 29, Russian news agency TASS reported.
If convicted of high treason, Kolker faces up to 20 years in prison.
But Kolker’s family had expressed fears that he would not survive his incarceration.
On Sunday, Maxim Kolker and his sister Alina Mironova said they received a telegram of Kolker’s death in pre-trial detention on Saturday at 2:40 a.m.
The cause of her death was not specified, but Mironova said earlier that Kolker suffered from stage IV pancreatic cancer.
“This should not have happened. The man could not move on to a better world near his family,” Mironova wrote on social media.
“They didn’t even let the family say goodbye,” added Maxim Kolker.
According to Tayga.info, Kolker had been airlifted to await trial at Moscow’s infamous Lefortovo prison.
The outlet reported that his arrest was accompanied by searches of his family’s apartment, where security officers seized his equipment.
Kolker was the latest in a string of Russian scientists, academics and journalists to be suspected of passing state secrets to foreign countries in recent years.