24 years in prison required for a journalist accused of “high treason”

Imprisoned since July 2020, Ivan Safronov is accused of having transmitted state secrets to the intelligence services of a NATO country.

Extremely heavy requisitions, in the midst of the conflict in Ukraine: the Russian prosecution demanded on Tuesday August 30, 24 years of imprisonment against the journalist Ivan Safronov, specialist in military questions, accused of high treason and imprisoned since 2020.

This trial comes as the Kremlin multiplies calls to support the armed forces fighting in Ukraine. In recent months, hundreds of Russians have been prosecuted for criticizing the offensive and accused of “discredit» troops. Recognized defense expert, Ivan Safronov, 32, was arrested in July 2020, in the context of a growing repression of the independent press, which has further accelerated since the attack in Ukraine.

The requisitions, announced on Tuesday, are nevertheless particularly severe, even for this kind of trial. “The representative of the prosecution asked to find Safronov guilty of high treason and impose a 24-year sentence on him in a harsh regime penal colony“Said the Moscow City Court, quoted by the TASS news agency. Since April, Ivan Safronov has been tried behind closed doors because it is a trial for espionage and treason. The verdict is expected on September 5. According to the court, the statement of the judgment will be open to the press.

Espionage charges

On Tuesday, Ivan Safronov appeared in the glass cage reserved for the suspects wearing a T-Shirt with the logo of the sci-fi films “Star Warsand an Iroquois crest as a haircut, according to images released by Russian justice. On Facebook, his lawyer, Evguéni Smirnov, indicated that the prosecution had proposed before the hearing to reduce his requisition to 12 years in prison, if Ivan Safronov pleaded guilty, which he refuses to do. At the beginning of March, the General Prosecutor’s Office had affirmed that Ivan Safronov was suspected “of having passed information to representatives of foreign intelligence services, in the knowledge that this information could be used by the member states of NATO against the security of Russia.»

The prosecution alleges in particular that he transmitted to a German political expert information on Russian military operations in Syria, and to the Czech intelligence services elements on Moscow’s arms deliveries in Africa. Ivan Safronov firmly rejects these accusations. The son of a journalist who also specializes in the military sector, he had previously worked for two Russian national dailies, Vedomosti and Kommersant.

“Extreme Cynicism”

Forced to resign from Kommersant in 2019, in May 2020 he became an adviser to the former director of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin. His affair was denounced by his former colleagues as revenge for his articles discussing failures or embarrassing incidents in the Russian army. The Kremlin had for its part assured that his arrest had nothing to do with his professional activity.

At the start of the trial in early April, Ivan Safronov once again claimed his innocence and denounced the “extreme cynicismof Russian justice. “I have indeed received from open sources information related to my field – military journalism“, wrote Ivan Safronov in a letter. But “I produced journalistic content that did not contain a single word or number received under the seal of secrecy or illegally“.

SEE ALSO – A Russian investigative journalist tried for “high treason» risk a heavy penalty


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