Ex-journalist Ivan Safronov was imprisoned in Russia for 22 years for treason

Ex-journalist Ivan Safronov was imprisoned in Russia for 22 years for treason

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A former journalist was sentenced to 22 years in prison in Russia for treason. He is said to have passed classified information about arms sales in the Middle East to a Czech intelligence agency.

Until a few years ago, Ivan Safronov, 32, was a defense specialist for the Kommersant trade newspaper, among others. Denies passing any state secrets. His lawyers suspect that he will be punished because he received news in 2019 that Russia wanted to sell military aircraft to Egypt.

Safronov was arrested in 2020. At that time, he worked as a consultant to the Roscosmos National Space Institute. He refuses to plead guilty, although doing so would have cut his sentence in half. He says he obtained information about the weapons order from public sources. He appeals the ruling.

Important for present-day Russia

One of his lawyers addressed the journalists present after the verdict was pronounced. “Safronov was given 22 years for his journalistic work. I want each of you to ask yourself what it is worth to continue in this profession. If someone gets 22 years to do their work.”

Human rights lawyer Pavel Chekhov speaks of “a clearly barbaric and cruel punishment, typical of today’s Russia.” He does not know of any similar cases where a person received such a long sentence, let alone a journalist. Prior to today’s hearing, several independent Russian media had requested Safronov’s release in a statement.

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