The Russian Prosecutor requested this Tuesday 24 years in prison for Ivan Safronov, journalist and former adviser to the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, accused of espionage in favor of the Czech Republic and high treason.
“The prosecution has asked Safronov to be sentenced to 24 years in a high-security prison,” a court spokesman was quoted as saying by the Interfax agency.
According to investigators, Safronov, arrested in July 2020, is guilty of two episodes of high treason. The journalist denies both charges..
The Prosecutor’s Office claims to have collected evidence of the illegal activities of Safronov, who allegedly collected between 2015 and 2019 classified information on Russia’s military-technical cooperation with some former Soviet republics and countries in the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans.
This information was delivered “systematically” to representatives of foreign special services, according to the indictment, which believes that Safronov was aware that the data he provided “could be used by NATO members against Russian security”.
In particular, the journalist is accused of passing classified information related to the supply of weapons from Russia in Africa and the Middle East to a Czech representative in 2017.
The final recipient of this information, according to the authorities, it was the united states.
In addition, last year the 32-year-old reporter was charged with selling information about Russian troops stationed in Syria to German secret services and a Swiss university.
The journalist, who worked for major Russian newspapers such as Vedomosti Y KommersantHe flatly denies the charges.
His arrest caused concern in the information sector and in organizations such as Amnesty International (AI) and several comrades and newspapers came out in their defense with solitary pickets – the only form of protest allowed in Russia without prior authorization – and editorials.
Last April, AI demanded the release of the journalist and denounced the opacity of the investigation of the caseas well as difficulties for the work of Safronov’s defense.
According to the legal group Pervi Otdel, the prosecution has presented no evidence of guilt of your client.
“Even all prosecution witnesses stated at trial that Safronov was only engaged in journalistic work without breaking the law and eliciting state secrets,” the group wrote on Telegram.
In his last comments, Safronov opined that his persecution is related solely to his journalistic work and said he was under surveillance for six years prior to his arrest. “After studying what is being incriminated against me, I can state unequivocally that the criminal prosecution is directly related to my activities as a journalist,” he said.
Safronov insisted that he has never tried to find out about state secrets and always published in his articles the information provided by his journalistic sources.
“There was no espionage, just journalism,” he said, adding that “nobody on planet Earth” has told him any secrets.
Safronov said the investigation “has done everything” to tarnish his name and reputation, but convicting him “would mean recognizing that journalistic work in Russia is a crime”.
“I insist on my innocence and ask for my full acquittal,” he concluded.