fsb russia
Cars drive past the headquarters of the Federal Security Service (FSB) in central Moscow, Russia, November 10, 2015. Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

Two Russian top security officials were reportedly charged with treason as Interfax reported on Tuesday. According to the Russian news agency's sources, the officials involved were FSB information security department deputy head Sergei Mikhailov and cybersecurity expert Dmitry Dokuchaev. The source added that Ruslan Stoyanov, a key cybercrime investigator at Kaspersky, was also involved.

“Sergei Mikhailov and his deputy, Dmitry Dokuchaev, are accused of betraying their oath and working with the CIA,” Interfax quoted its source. The source said that the officials merely passed on information to the CIA.

The officials had allegedly collaborated with each other and with the foreign intelligence agencies to commit treason. The source said that the group was composed of some who developed the cyber attacks and some who applied the scheme of the attacks. The news agency reported that four people were arrested and other eight people were expected to be witnesses in the case.

In December 2016, Mikhailov and Dokuchaev were reportedly taken into custody because of treason. Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that Mikhailov was accused of giving US intelligence officials information about a server-rental company called King Servers. On Tuesday, FSB agents searched his home and his seasonal home. The agents found more than US$12 million (AU$ 1.3 million) in cash stashed in various hiding places.

Mikhailov and Dokuchaev were also linked to Shaltai Boltai or Humpty Dumpty, a known group of hackers. The group was responsible for publishing emails from Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and other Kremlin officials. It was reported that they worked for the group and sold sensitive information to the highest bidder while currently employed by FSB.

Stoyanov was reportedly arrested and Kaspersky confirmed that he was being held in a Moscow prison. However, the company cleared that the arrest was not linked to his work for the company. Investigators were reportedly examining the money that he allegedly received from foreign companies. A source said that the case was filed under article 275 of Russia's criminal code.

The arrest and treason charges were believed to happen after Russia was accused on hacking the Democratic servers and for interfering with the US election process. However, internet and Russian security services expert Andrei Soldatov said that there was no clear evidence that the crime could be linked to the hacking of US servers. The trial is expected to be held in secret and the officials who were involved in the case may serve 20 years in jail.