Wednesday 8/5/20

Russian journalist Safronov to be charged in NATO espionage case

It is alleged that he has compiled secret Russian military information for the Czech Republic, and that the United States has received that information.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks via videoconference to the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA). Photo:NATO/dpa.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks via videoconference to the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA). Photo:NATO/dpa.

Russian authorities were expected on Monday to officially charge career journalist and space agency Roscosmos adviser Ivan Safronov with treason on suspicion of having spied for a NATO member state.

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.

Arms shipment to Egypt

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."

Russian journalist Safronov to be charged in NATO espionage case
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