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Russian charged with trying to obtain F-16 user manuals to avoid US trial

Tech. Sgt. Chris Hase takes a technical manual from Staff Sgt. Christopher Boyd during a weapons download and functional test of an F-16 fighter during an Amalgam Mute inspection March 15. As well as inspecting a unit's ability to employ and control aircraft, North American Aerospace Defense Command Inspector General personnel also inspect and grade the unit on their ability to maintain and reconstitute their aircraft following a mission. Hase and Boyd are aircraft armament systems specialists with the 138th Fighter Wing, Detachment 1. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A Russian software developer charged by U.S. authorities with trying to obtain user manuals and instructional materials for F-16 fighters jets will forgo a scheduled jury trial to enter a plea.

Oleg Tishchenko will be sentenced on June 19 by a Utah court immediately following his plea, according to court documents filed on June 13.

The new filing indicates that Tishchenko might plead guilty to some or all of the charges against him. He initially pleaded not guilty and trial was set for August 19.

He faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

The Russian Embassy in Washington last month expressed concern over Tishchenko’s case, which comes on the heels of the sentencing of Maria Butina, who received 18 months for conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign official.

Prosecutors allege Tishchenko posted messages in a video game forum in 2011, saying he was looking for help in acquiring manuals for U.S. fighter jets.

Tishchenko, who worked for a computer company that makes flight simulators, said he wanted to obtain them to help improve their designs, court records show.

Foreign citizens are not allowed to buy the manuals, which are available on eBay.

A Texas man purchased the manuals for Tishchenko and shipped them to him, according to court records.

News reports said the Texas man was also indicted but later had the charges against him dropped.

Tishchenko allegedly obtained manuals for other fighter jets, which he then sold on eBay to purchasers in Cyprus, Japan, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, and Taiwan, court records say.

Tishchenko was charged in 2016 but was only arrested in March, when Georgian authorities arrested and extradited him.