Greece bails Bulgarian accused by U.S. of shipping computer chips to Russia

Greece bails Bulgarian accused by U.S. of shipping computer chips to Russia

ATHENS/SOFIA, Feb 16 (Reuters) – A 49-year-old Bulgarian arrested by police in northern Greece in December following a U.S. warrant has been released on bail pending a court ruling on his extradition for sending sensitive electronic circuits to Russia, a government official said on Thursday.

Milan Dimitrov, who has denied any wrongdoing, was arrested on his way back to Bulgaria after a trip to the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki.

A Greek court this week postponed a hearing on the U.S. extradition request and decided to release Dimitrov on 5,000 euros bail on condition that he does not leave the country and appears at a police station regularly, the Athens News Agency said.

He was released from prison on Thursday, the official told Reuters.

A U.S. federal grand jury indicted Dimitrov and his father, Dimitar, in 2020, accusing them of procuring radiation-hardened chips from a Texas company, Vorago Technologies, and shipping them to Russia through Bulgaria.

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Both men were charged with export control violations and money laundering. Milan Dimitrov was also accused of making a false statement to a U.S. government export control officer.

A Russian businessman, Ilias Sabirov, was charged with receiving the chips, which are hardened to resist radiation and extreme temperatures and are critical components in missiles and military satellites.

The case was the subject of a Reuters special report last April, which used it as an example of how sensitive Western technology can still end up in Russia despite strict U.S. export controls. At the time, Milan Dimitrov and Sabirov, who were fugitives, denied any wrongdoing. Dimitrov’s father couldn’t be reached for comment.

Milan Dimitrov’s wife, Mariana Gargova, told Reuters on Thursday that he was arrested by Greek police in the early hours of Dec. 6 at a border checkpoint with Greece, when he was returning to Bulgaria after a trip with a friend.

She said her husband was now allowed to stay at a friend’s house in Greece but cannot leave the country until at least next month when another court hearing is scheduled. She said police in Bulgaria also questioned her on Dec. 6.

“I have no concerns as we are clean,” she said.

U.S. government officials in Washington and Athens did not respond to requests for comment.

Reporting by Steve Stecklow in London, Renee Maltezou in Athens and Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia; Editing by Hugh Lawson

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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