Ivan Safronov, a former correspondent of the newspapers Kommersant and Vedomosti, who after his media career became an adviser to the head of the Russian Space Agency, was arrested in 2020 and accused of disclosing classified information – Writes Reuters.
He was just doing his job
Of course, Safronov’s lawyers immediately announced that they would appeal the verdict. According to his supporters, the case is in retaliation for his reports that revealed details of international arms deals to Russia. Speaking outside the courtroom, Safronov’s lawyer, Dmitry Kachev, said he was almost speechless when he heard the verdict.
Safronov received 22 years for his journalistic activities. I would like everyone who looks at me to think if it would be worth staying in this profession if someone got 22 years to do their job.
He told reporters.
Pavel Chekhov, a human rights lawyer, said the sentence was “a clearly cruel and cruel punishment that exemplifies what Russia is now”. He said he had not found an example of such a long sentence handed down in a treason case, let alone a journalist.
State secrets that are not
Prosecutors say Safronov briefed Czech foreign intelligence on state secrets about Russian arms sales in the Middle East. He has denied the charges and last month rejected a plea bargain that would have seen him spend 12 years behind bars.
During the trial, his legal team submitted to the court 19 articles containing links to public government statements. Prosecutors classified this information as a state secret, and the man allegedly handed it over to Czech intelligence.
Ivan never sent any classified information anywhere, neither for money nor for free … He was an ordinary journalist who honestly did his job.
– He said in his lawyer’s statement.
According to his defense, the suit is retaliation due to
Safronov revealed that Russia wants to sell combat aircraft to Egypt.
The deal, estimated at $2 billion, was canceled soon after when the United States threatened Cairo with sanctions if the deal went through.
Ahead of Monday’s court session, several independent Russian media outlets demanded Safronov’s release. Medusa, Novaya Gazeta and TVRen newspapers said in their statements that it was “obvious” that Safronov had been punished for writing about Russian military purchases in a way that upset the Defense Ministry.
Shortly thereafter, the Basmani District Court of Moscow stopped the press recording of the print edition of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
(Cover Photo: Ivan Safronov on September 5, 2022. Photo: Moscow City Court/Reuters)
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