Italy Arrests Russian Exec Suspected of Economic Espionage in U.S.

Italy on Thursday arrested an executive with Russia’s state engine maker at the request of the U.S., which suspects him of economic espionage, BBC News in Russian reported.

57-year-old Alexander Korshunov, the head of business development at United Engine Corporation (UEC), a subsidiary of state tech conglomerate Rostec, was detained Tuesday as he arrived in Naples from Moscow. He is accused of embezzling intellectual property and General Electric documents for a Russian aircraft engine program, Russian media wrote.

Italian police had presented Korshunov with a U.S.-issued arrest warrant.

“He’s been accused of stealing some secrets,” President Vladimir Putin was quoted as saying at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Thursday, calling Korshunov’s arrest “unfair competition.”

“Yes, we have a consultation deal with an Italian firm. It’s open commercial work, a global practice. Now the American partners claim that something was stolen,” Putin reportedly said.

News website RBC cited a UEC source as saying that Korshunov was arrested last Friday. An Italian court was set to consider Korshunov’s extradition to the U.S. on Thursday, Vedomosti cited an unnamed source as saying.

Korshunov and Maurizio Bianchi, the former director of an Italian division of GE Aviation, are accused of hiring former General Electric employees to prepare a technical report on jet engine accessories using the U.S. company’s intellectual property, according to the criminal complaint that was unsealed on September 5.

GE Aviation is one of the world’s largest suppliers of civilian and military aircraft engines. It completed the acquisition of an Italian manufacturer of aviation components in 2013.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday that Korshunov is being provided with legal assistance.