Russia: Ex-reporter jailed for 22 years on treason costs

MOSCOW — A court docket in Moscow on Monday discovered a former journalist responsible of treason and sentenced him to 22 years in a most safety jail, concluding a trial that has been broadly seen as politically motivated.

The sentence handed to Ivan Safronov is among the many harshest strikes in opposition to Russian unbiased journalists and Kremlin critics, who’ve confronted mounting strain in recent times. Safronov labored as a protection and house reporter for Kommersant newspaper for a decade, earlier than turning into an adviser to the pinnacle of the Russian house company Roscosmos.

Safronov was accused of passing army secrets and techniques to Czech intelligence, and details about the Russian army to a German nationwide. The previous journalist insisted on his innocence and argued that he collected all the knowledge from open sources in the middle of his work and did nothing unlawful.

Many Russian journalists and human rights activists have pushed for Safronov’s launch, sustaining that the authorities could have needed to take revenge for his reporting that uncovered Russian army incidents and shady arms offers.

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Hours earlier than the ruling was introduced by the Moscow Metropolis Courtroom, 15 unbiased Russian media retailers issued a joint assertion demanding Safronov’s launch. “It’s apparent to us that the rationale for persecuting Ivan Safronov shouldn’t be ‘treason,’ which hasn’t been substantiated … however his work as a journalist and tales he printed with none regard for what the Protection Ministry or Russian authorities assume,” the assertion learn.

The European Union on Monday additionally urged Russian authorities to drop all costs in opposition to Safronov and “launch him with none situations,” denouncing “systematic repressions of the regime in opposition to unbiased journalism.”

Safronov has been in custody since his July 2020 arrest in Moscow.

Rights activists, journalists, scientists and company officers who’ve confronted treason accusations in Russia in recent times have discovered it troublesome to defend themselves due to secrecy surrounding their circumstances and an absence of public entry to info.

Safronov’s father additionally labored for Kommersant, masking army points after retiring from the armed forces. In 2007, he died after falling from a window of his residence constructing in Moscow.

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Investigators concluded that he killed himself, however some Russian media retailers questioned the official model, pointing to his intent to publish a delicate report about secret arms deliveries to Iran and Syria.