Russian Federal Space Agency adviser Ivan Safronov, who was convicted of transmitting state secrets to NATO’s intelligence units, was sentenced to 22 years in prison for “treason”.
The Moscow City Court has announced its decision on Ivan Safronov, a consultant to the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) who was detained on charges of treason and later decided to be arrested, and a journalist for Kommersant and Vedomosti, one of the leading Russian newspapers.
The court found ex-journalist Safronov guilty of transmitting state secrets in the military-technical field to NATO’s intelligence units.
22 years sentence for “treason”
According to AA’s report “Treason” Convicted of charges, the Russian journalist was sentenced to 22 years in prison.
Safronov refused a plea bargain that could have nearly halved both the charges and his sentence.
The verdict that emerged from the trial was seen as the result of a series of crackdowns on Russia’s independent media since the start of the war in Ukraine.
‘Sales of SU-35 fighter jets to Egypt’
Safronov, 32, was arrested in July 2020 after quitting journalism to work as an adviser to the head of the state space agency.
Last week, the BBC’s Russian service reported that the charges are believed to be related to an article by Safronov that revealed Russia’s sale of SU-35 fighter jets to Egypt, triggering a diplomatic backlash.
‘Didn’t have access to state secrets while working’
Safronov was detained after being formally accused of revealing state secrets while working for the space agency.
However, agency officials insisted Safronov did not have access to state secrets while working there, and said the charges were not business-related.
Two lawyers fled the country
Lawyers working for Safronov came under constant pressure throughout the trials.
Of these, Yevgeny Smirnov and Ivan Pavlov reportedly fled the country.
Journalists said “freedom”
Few journalists supporters when the decision was announced “freedom” chanted slogans and the legal team told state media they would appeal the decision.
Before Monday’s verdict, several independent Russian organizations, including the Russian Service of the Moscow Times, TV Rain and Meduza, urged prosecutors to drop the charges and release Safronov.
In the joint statement, “The reason for Ivan Safronov’s persecution is journalistic work, not yet unproven ‘treason’.” it was said.
The EU’s delegation to Russia reiterated the calls and encouraged Moscow to promote independent journalism. “systematic pressure” accused with.
Media outlets on the radar
Since the start of the Ukraine war, Russia has launched a crackdown on independent media outlets.
In early March, legislators passed a new law that sentenced anyone who spread “fake news” about the conflict to 15 years in prison.
“Discrediting the Armed Forces” media outlets also face heavy penalties and prison sentences of up to 5 years.
On Monday, a Russian court ruled that the few remaining independents in the country news revoked the operating license of one of its subsidiaries, Novaya Gazeta, which has consistently criticized President Vladimir Putin.
The court said the broadcaster did not provide documents regarding the change of ownership in 2006.
Its editor, Dmitry Muratov, said the decision was “a political hit without the slightest legal basis”.
A number of international journalists, including BBC, Times and Guardian reporters, were also banned from entering Russia.
Announcing the ban in July, Moscow banned a number of British journalists. “Involving in the deliberate dissemination of false and one-sided information about Russia” blamed.