Three young Russians are sent to prison for planning a terrorist act… in Minecraft

Recent reports indicate that Russian authorities have sentenced three teenagers to five years in prison for an unprecedented reason: the young men allegedly “conspired” to blow up a virtual version of the building of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) created in the popular video game Minecraft.

About Minecraft, specialists mention that this has become the best-selling video game in history and currently accumulates more than 140 million active users. This is a virtual world video game in which players can use blocks extracted from the earth to build all sorts of things, including an exact copy of the Russian intelligence agency, heir to the well-known KGB.

The three defendants were arrested in mid-2020, when at just 14 years of age they began hanging political pamphlets in the actual FSB building. These pamphlets accused the agency of terrorism, in addition to apologizing for the work of an anarchist mathematician accused of vandalism for breaking a window and throwing a smoke bomb at the intelligence agency’s facilities.

When authorities identified the young perpetrators, they found some videos about the preparation of homemade bombs stored on their smartphones, in addition to evidence demonstrating the teens’ plan for their “virtual attack,” which had been committed in the days following the investigation. All three were arrested for violations of Russia’s penal code, which provides for up to 20 years in prison for planning terrorist activities.

Two of the young defendants have already pleaded guilty, while the third of them said he was innocent throughout the trial: “I never thought that sticking leaflets on the FSB would have such severe consequences; I am not a terrorist and I am not guilty,” he said. Still, all three were found guilty and sentenced to five years in a prison in Siberia. The defendants remain under house arrest while all the formalities of their transfer are completed, although the decision is likely to be appealed by some legal means.

To learn more about information security risks, malware variants, vulnerabilities and information technologies, feel free to access the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) websites.