A Russian scientist freed yesterday after nearly a decade in jail for selling secrets to China has accused Vladimir Putin's "court" of turning the Kremlin leader into a tsar and of using the legal system to punish opponents.

Valentin Danilov, 66, looked pale and thin as he was released on parole from a prison colony on the edge of the industrial Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk after serving eight years of a 14-year sentence. But he was defiant over a case that human rights activists say was part of an attempt by Putin to intimidate academics with ties to other nations.

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