Russian man arrested in Utah, accused of illegally shipping fighter jet manuals to Moscow

Russian man arrested in Utah, accused of illegally shipping fighter jet manuals to Moscow

(Weber County Sheriff's Office)

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SALT LAKE CITY — A Russian video game developer is in Utah facing several federal conspiracy and smuggling charges after he allegedly exported fighter jet manuals from the U.S. to Moscow, according to court documents.

Oleg Mikhaylovich Tishchenko, 42, was booked into the Weber County Jail on March 14, several years after the crimes he's accused of were allegedly committed.

In June 2016, Tishchenko was indicted in the U.S. District Court of Utah for investigation of five offenses, including conspiracy to commit an offense against the U.S., unlawful export of arms and munitions and smuggling goods from the U.S.

Tishchenko faces up to 10 years in prison if he is found guilty in the case, according to a detention order. He is in Utah awaiting trial. On May 6, defense attorneys filed a motion to dismiss two of the five counts listed in the indictment, according to court documents. His trial, which earlier was set for May 20, was continued and is currently scheduled for Aug. 19, court documents state.

The indictment alleges that between June 2011 and October 2011, Tishchenko bought Air Force Technical Orders, or flight manuals, for F-16 A and B Air Defense Fighter jets on eBay. He then conspired with a man in Texas — Kenneth Edward Sullivan — to ship the manuals to Russia, the indictment alleges.

Although Sullivan is named in the 2016 indictment, a court order in Tishchenko's case dated May 6 states that there are no longer any other co-defendants in the case.

Air Force manuals such as the ones described in the Tishchenko case cannot be exported from the U.S. without a license or authorization from the U.S. Department of State, according to the indictment.

Among other things, the manuals include clear instructions for the operation and maintenance of the military jets, the indictment states.

The two men connected on an online forum in June 2011, according to the indictment. The forum was for discussions related to the flight simulation video game Digital Combat Simulator, the indictment states.

According to the May 6 motion to dismiss two counts in the case, Tischenko worked as a programmer for Moscow-based Eagle Dynamics, which develops the DCS game, since before 2011. Tishchenko said he needed the manuals to help him with development of the game, according to the motion.

Tishchenko requested help from other forum users with shipping items from eBay auctions since there are restrictions on international bidders, the indictment states. He said in the forum that he was preparing to bid on an auction for a series of flight manuals for F-16 A and B model aircraft, according to the indictment.

The eBay seller would not ship items out of the U.S., so Tishchenko asked if anyone on the forum would receive the packages and then forward them to him in Russia, according to the indictment.

On the date the eBay auction ended, Tishchenko changed his shipping address to Sullivan’s Texas address, the indictment states. Sullivan then sent the manuals to Tischenko in Moscow, Russia, between June and October, according to the indictment.

“On October 25, 2011, Sullivan posted a comment that he had shipped the (flight manuals) and was concerned that he had violated the law,” the indictment states.

Between January 2012 and September 2015, Tishchenko auctioned DVD copies of F-16 flight manuals to people in Cyprus, Japan, Netherlands, Australia, Germany and Taiwan, according to the indictment.

He also attempted to export flight manuals for F-16 and F-22 fighter jets to Russia in March 2016, according to the indictment.

Hill Air Force Base in Weber County was in charge of the F-16 programs described in the Tishchenko case, according to U.S. District Court of Utah spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch.

Law enforcement officials at Hill Air Force Base investigated the case before it was turned over to federal court, she said.

Russia does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S., according to a detention order filed in Tishchenko’s case. He was arrested in the country of Georgia, and in June 2018, the U.S. government filed an extradition request.


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