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30 Aug, 2022 12:19

Russian prosecutors request 24-year sentence in Safronov ‘treason’ case

The former journalist is being tried for allegedly leaking confidential government information to the West
Russian prosecutors request 24-year sentence in Safronov ‘treason’ case

Russian prosecutors have requested a 24-year sentence in a maximum security prison for former journalist Ivan Safronov, who is accused of state treason for leaking classified intel to NATO’s intelligence services.

Prosecutors have also requested a 500,000-ruble ($8,200) fine for Safronov, who is believed to have handed over confidential information regarding Russia’s military interests.

According to Russian law, state treason can carry a sentence of between 12 and 20 years in prison, as well as a fine.

Safronov, who once worked for Russian newspapers Kommersant and Vedomosti and later became an adviser to the head of the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, was arrested in July 2020. He is accused of two counts of cooperating with the Czech and German intelligence services.

Prosecutors believe Safronov was recruited by members of the Czech special services in 2012 and leaked information to them related to Russia’s military-technical cooperation in Africa and the Middle East – the ultimate recipient of this classified intel being the US.  

They also claim that he was paid $248 in 2015 for providing information on the activities of Russia’s armed forces in Syria, which was sent to representatives of Zurich University in Switzerland and the German intelligence services. Investigators claim this information could have been used to analyze the actions of Russian troops in Syria.

Safronov and his legal team have denied the allegations and have refused to reach a settlement with prosecutors, arguing that the defendant is being punished for his journalistic work.

Safronov’s trial is ongoing, and is being held behind closed doors. After his defense team rests its case, the defendant will have the right to the last word, after which the court will enter deliberations to decide on a verdict.