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US deports Russian convicted of smuggling F-16 manuals

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft assigned to the 35th Fighter Squadron takes off on a simulated combat sortie during operational readiness exercise (ORE) Beverly Bulldog 14-01 at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, Nov. 19, 2013. (DoD photo by Senior Airman Armando A. Schwier-Morales, U.S. Air Force/Released)

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

A Russian citizen will be immediately deported from the United States after pleading guilty to smuggling F-16 technical manuals to Moscow.

Oleg Tishchenko, 42, pleaded guilty on June 19 at a federal court in Salt Lake City to two of the five counts brought against him.

Federal Judge Dale Kimball sentenced him to one year and one day in prison, with credit for time served.

The sentence “sends a clear message of deterrence to others that similar conduct will be prosecuted,” the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah said in a statement sent to RFE/RL.

As Tishchenko has been held more than 12 months in federal custody, he was released to Homeland Security agents for deportation, according to a court filing.

“Defendant shall be released into the custody of Homeland Security agents today, 6/19/2019, and they will transport Defendant to the Salt Lake International Airport for self-deportation to Russia,” the filing stated.

Tishchenko will board a flight from Salt Lake City to Amsterdam and then transfer for a flight to Moscow.

The Russian was indicted in 2016 after Homeland Security agents discovered he had used eBay to buy the fighter manuals with the help of a third party.

Individuals may not export U.S. defense manuals without first receiving licenses from the State Department.

Tishchenko was arrested by the United States after he was extradited by authorities in Georgia, where he traveled for a visit.

The Russian initially denied the charges and was scheduled to go on trial in August.

However, last week he agreed to enter a new plea.

Tishchenko posted in July 2011 in an online forum that he needed help purchasing F-16 A/B Air Defense Fighter manuals on eBay, according to the U.S. complaint.

He identified himself on eBay as a developer for a Moscow-based video game maker. He said he wanted the manuals to help him improve game designs.

Tishchenko said the owner would not sell the manuals to international bidders, so he wanted to find someone in the United States who could receive the package and then forward it to him in Russia.

U.S. citizen Kenneth Sullivan agreed to help Tishchenko, who later auctioned the manuals on DVDs to individuals in Cyprus, Japan, Netherlands, Australia, Germany, and Taiwan, according to the U.S. complaint.