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Friend of jailed journalist Ivan Safronov denies working for Czech intelligence

Source: Russian BBC

Martin Larysh, a friend of jailed former journalist Ivan Safronov who a TASS source named as a “career officer” in Czech intelligence, has denied working for the intelligence services.

In a letter to the BBC Russian Service and Safronov’s lawyers, Larysh confirmed that he met Safronov in 2012, while working in Moscow as a correspondent for the Czech newspaper Lidove Noviny. The two became friends over time and often talked outside of work.

“There were no state secrets in my conversations and correspondence with Ivan, since we always only worked with open sources,” Larysh stated.

Larysh also confirmed that he now heads the Center for Security Analyses and Prevention, which prepares reports on security in Eastern Europe and Africa. He underscored that all of the center’s publications are openly available on its website.

“I am well aware of how human rights and civil liberties are violated in Russia, and I know how the current regime relates to freedom of speech and the media, therefore, I don’t want to and will not make any more comments, understanding that any word I say could be twisted and may even harm Ivan, and I won’t allow this,” Larysh concluded.

Russian BBC

Former journalist and Roscosmos communications advisor Ivan Safronov was placed under two months arrest on treason charges on July 7. The Moscow City Court refused to void the arrest during a closed hearing on July 16.

According to state investigators,Safronov passed classified information to Czech intelligence in 2017. Safronov maintains that he isn’t guilty. His defense lawyers are insisting that the case is linked to his past work as a journalist.

Safronov worked as an investigative reporter covering Russia’s military-industrial complex for the country’s top business newspapers, Vedomosti and Kommersant, for nearly a decade. He went to work as a communications advisor to the head of Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos in May 2020.

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