Ivan Safronov was one of the most prominent journalists reporting on defence issues in Russia. He was arrested in July 2020, after leaving journalism to work as an adviser to the head of the state space agency.
“For a year and nine months I have been forced to say that I am guilty of high treason,” he said in a statement released ahead of the trial. “But I repeat, and I will repeat: I am not guilty” he added.
The FSB security service has accused Safronov of collecting confidential information about Russia’s military, defence and security and handing it over to the intelligence of a NATO member country.
In response, Safronov said that the information was based on analysis of open sources and conversations with officials, adding that he had not been told what constituted treason in his case. ” Just put yourself in my place – they are telling you that you have committed a crime, but they are not telling you what crime exactly, ” he said. ” How will you defend yourself against this absurdity?… This is a complete travesty of justice and common sense!”
Safronov’s lawyers have said it is the first time in nearly two decades that a journalist had been arrested and jailed on treason charges.
Russian media have come under increasing pressure in recent years and several independent media outlets have shut down since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
IFJ general secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “We condemn the prosecution of journalist Ivan Safronov. We urge the Russian authorities to drop all charges against him and stop the crackdown on the media .”