In Russia, heavy verdict for a journalist disturbing the FSB

In Russia, heavy verdict for a journalist disturbing the FSB
A screenshot shows Ivan Safronov (2nd left) at the Moscow City Court, September 5, 2022.

The Russian government imposed, Monday, September 5, an extremely heavy and unprecedented sentence on journalist Ivan Safronov, accused of high treason by the FSB, the security services. He was sentenced to twenty-two years in a strict regime penal colony, followed by two years of limited freedom, for having transmitted seven analytical articles containing – according to the prosecution – state secrets to the Czech journalist Martin Larysh and to German political analyst Dmitry Voronin.

The judge only read the introduction and the verdict, without saying a word about the argument. All the trial hearings were held behind closed doors on the pretext that state secrets were included in the indictment. Dozens of colleagues, relatives and friends of Ivan Safronov were present in the courtroom to support him. When the verdict was announced, they chanted the word ” freedom “ and applauded the condemned. The latter, standing in his glass cage, his eyes tired, replied: ” I love you all. »

“Absurd” accusations

Aged 32, two of whom have already spent in preventive prison, this journalist renowned for his expertise in the defense industry sector has denied any guilt. Former newspaper contributor Kommersant and Vedomosti focused its defense on demonstrating that only one of the articles contained confidential information, elements which were made public less than two months after their transmission. Mr. Safronov’s lawyers immediately appealed.

In his closing argument a few days ago, Mr. Safronov described the charges against him as“absurd”stressing that he had never had access to any classified document and stressing that the investigators have never produced any testimony to support the accusations of espionage.

The investigative site Proekt published, on August 29, a investigation revealing how the accusation against Safronov was stitched together in white thread. Funny example drawn from the prosecution file: one of the extras in the case, Dmitri Voronin, cooked by an FSB investigator, ended up admitting to having a supervisor made up from scratch, whom he says he knows by the name of war of “Wichser”, German word which means “wanker”.

“Ivan Safronov’s punishment is demonstrably cruel and brutal, reflecting the new Russian reality”, Pavel Tchikov, Russian lawyer

The absurdity of the verdict and, beyond that, of the Russian judicial system is summed up by the wife of Ivan Safronov, Ksenia Mironova, in a tweet. “On the floor below the apartment where we lived with Safronov, lived Micha the alcoholic. Two years ago, Micha raped a friend with a bottle and the latter died, but Micha did not go to prison. This year, he swung out the window and killed his drinking buddy. It took five years. » “I have never seen a conviction for treason exceed twenty years”Russian lawyer Pavel Tchikov, who specializes in defending individuals indicted for espionage, said on his Telegram channel. “The sentence exceeds [les vingt ans] because [Safronov] is charged in two cases and the sentences are cumulative. Sentences in espionage cases are always heavy, but I have seen the sentences lengthen in recent years. (…) Ivan Safronov’s punishment is demonstrably cruel and brutal, reflecting the new Russian reality. »

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