Russian journalist Safronov charged in NATO espionage case

Moscow - By Peter Spinella, - Russian authorities charged career journalist and space agency Roscosmos adviser Ivan Safronov on Monday with treason on suspicion of having spied for a NATO member state.

journalist Safronov
journalist Safronov
State media reported that at least 15 people were detained during a protest in support of Safronov outside the Moscow detention facility where he has been kept in custody. Safronov, who faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, has attested that he is innocent.
Safronov is alleged to have collected secret Russian military information regarding the Middle East and Africa for the Czech Republic, with the United States being a recipient of that information, state media reported.
Safronov's lawyer Ivan Pavlov has denounced the case as politically motivated in connection with the journalist's hard-hitting reporting.
"No evidence has been presented" to Safronov's legal team, Pavlov said in an interview with the radio station Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow). "The investigators didn't explain anything to us."
Previously a reporter for the prominent Russian newspapers Kommersant and Vedomosti, Safronov had been working as a public relations adviser to the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, for two months before he was unexpectedly detained last week.
Russian media have speculated that the case could be based on Safronov's reporting about Russian arms shipments, particularly military aircraft being sent to Egypt.
The lack of evidence raises the concern that "the investigators are trying to hide their intentions," Pavlov said. "It is obvious to us that this is directly connected with his work as a journalist."
"If the accusation did not pertain to his profession, the investigators would have gladly provided documents to convince not only the court but also the public," Pavlov said.
The Czech government's foreign intelligence service, the Office for Foreign Relations and Information (UZSI), declined to comment on the case, saying "we cannot share any information about our activities."

Monday, July 13th 2020
By Peter Spinella,

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