Russian court upholds 22-year prison sentence against journalist Ivan Safronov for high treason

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Archive – Russian flags decorate the facade of a building located in St. Petersburg. – SERGEI MIKHAILICHENKO / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO

A Moscow court on Wednesday upheld the 22-year prison sentence imposed against journalist and State Space Corporation (Roscosmos) advisor Ivan Safronov for high treason, rejecting an appeal filed by his legal team.

«The verdict of the Moscow City Court remains unchanged, the appeal is not admitted,» the court has announced, according to court documents picked up by the TASS news agency.

Thus, the sentence has entered into force and can be executed as soon as possible, which would entail the transfer of the convict to serve his sentence, a decision taken after a session held behind closed doors.

The sentence against Safronov is one of the most severe imposed in modern Russian history under the article on treason against the state contained in the country’s Criminal Code.

The journalist was arrested in July 2020 and accused of handing over secret data to one of NATO’s intelligence agencies. Before being hired by Roscosmos, he worked for the newspapers ‘Kommersant’ and ‘Vedomosti’, where he wrote about military and space-related issues.

Prosecutors claim that Safronov had collaborated since 2012 with the Czech Republic’s secret services, through which he allegedly delivered to the United States information related to the country’s technical and military cooperation.

Subsequently, he was accused of handing over information on Russian military activity to a Russian-German dual national political scientist who, in turn, allegedly handed over the data to German intelligence. However, Safronov himself insists on his innocence and rejects all charges against him.