Ex-journalist Ivan Safronov charged with high treason, after allegedly passing secret information to NATO
Safronov, who previously wrote for the well-known Russian newspapers Kommersant and Vedomosti, is believed by investigators from the Federal Security Service to have been working for the Czech Republic, a NATO member state.
According to Safronov’s lawyer, Ivan Pavlov, he maintains his innocence. He also explained that Safronov will cooperate with the investigation. If found guilty, Safronov could serve up to 20 years in jail.
“The charge against Ivan isn’t clear. It’s not clear who the investigators think Ivan was recruited by, and it’s not clear what information he transmitted, and to whom, how, and when,” Pavlov said.
According to investigators, Safronov was recruited by Czech intelligence in 2012 and, five years later, gave them information about the export of Russian weapons. The FSB claims that Safronov transmitted the information via the Internet, using the VeraCrypt encryption program. Despite denials from the authorities, he believes the charges filed against him are a response to his journalism. Later on Monday, Safronov's lawyer said that the FSB did not find any state secrets in the journalist's publications.
Safronov’s arrest has been met with outrage from the country’s journalistic community. On Monday morning, just before charges were brought, at least a dozen journalists were detained outside Moscow’s Lefortovo Prison, where Safronov is awaiting trial. Furthermore, in an unprecedented move, journalists from the Kremlin pool recorded a video in support of Safronov, their former colleague.
While working for newspapers, Safronov was an investigative journalist, specializing in Russia’s vast military-industrial complex, including arms sales to foreign countries. In May, he was appointed as an adviser to Dmitry Rogozin, the director general of Roscosmos.Also on rt.com Adviser to Russian Space Agency chief arrested on suspicion of passing information to NATO intelligence