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18:09 GMT +3 hours21 December 2014
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Man Charged with Selling Classified Maps to U.S.

© RIA Novosti. Igor Mikhalev
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The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has initiated a criminal case against an ex-serviceman accused of selling classified topographic maps of Russia to the U.S. Defense Department.

The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has initiated a criminal case against an ex-serviceman accused of selling classified topographic maps of Russia to the U.S. Defense Department.

The documents charge Vladimir Lazar, a former serviceman with the Topographic Service of Russia’s Armed Forces, with transferring secret data to a former fellow student, Alexander Lesment, who had been actively collaborating with U.S. intelligence since 1994, Prosecutor General's Office spokesperson Marina Gridneva said.

In 2008, Lazar, acting on instructions from Lesment, bought optical discs containing more than 7,000 images of topographic maps of Russia from a collector. Later, he digitalized the data and sold it in Belarus through an intermediary.

The transfer of this information could cause serious harm to Russia’s security, Gridneva said.

“According to U.S. Defense Department experts, the topographic maps contain data that include state secrets,” she said.

Lesment and Lazar studied together in Leningrad Higher Military Topographic Command School in 1975-1979. Since the mid-1990s Lesment has lived in Estonia, Gridneva said.