The sentence is heavier than usual for murder and serves to intimidate journalists
A Russian court sentenced former journalist Ivan Safronov to 22 years in prison after finding him guilty of treason, Reuters reported. Safronov was arrested in 2020 and charged with disclosing classified information. His lawyers said they will appeal the verdict, reported RIA “Novosti”.
Supporters of Safronov say the lawsuit against him is retaliation for his reporting that revealed details of Russia’s international arms deals. Safronov worked as a defense reporter for Kommersant and Vedomosti newspapers before becoming an adviser to the head of Russia’s space agency.
Before the sentencing, the European Union called on Russia to drop all charges against him and release him unconditionally. According to prosecutors, Safronov shared classified information about Russian arms sales in the Middle East with Czech foreign intelligence. He denies the allegations and insists that the information he allegedly passed on to the Czech Republic was publicly available.
Last month, the former journalist turned down a plea deal that would have seen him face up to 12 years in prison.
The heavy sentence against him – larger than Russian courts usually hand down in premeditated murder cases – is seen as a significant blow to journalism in Russia. The punishment comes as the Kremlin steps up pressure on media freedom amid the war in Ukraine. (BTA)