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Former Russian journalist charged with treason refuses plea bargain that would require naming his old sources

Source: Interfax

Former investigative journalist and Roscosmos communications advisor Ivan Safronov turned down a plea bargain with investigators that would have required naming his journalistic sources, Interfax reports, citing Safronov’s lawyer, Ivan Pavlov.

Ivan Safronov previously worked as an investigative journalist reporting on Russia’s military-industrial complex for the Russian business newspapers Kommersant and Vedomosti. He went to work as a communications advisor to the head of Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos in May 2020. 

On July 7, federal agents arrested him on treason charges. According to the investigation, Safronov passed classified information to Czech intelligence. Moscow’s Lefortovo Court jailed him for two months that same day. Safronov has denied any guilt, while his defense lawyers maintain that he is being persecuted for his past work as a journalist. Safronov was formally charged with treason on July 13.

“The investigator casually said that he sees a plea bargain as the best way out [for Safronov]. The condition would be to give over the names of the journalistic sources that Ivan worked with,” Pavlov said. He added that Safronov “didn’t even discuss it.”

In conversation with MBK Media, Pavlov called the investigator’s words a “Freudian slip.” “The investigation categorically denies any links between the charges and Ivan’s journalistic activities, but here it turns out that the sources of his information are of interest,” Safronov’s lawyer said. 

According to Pavlov, the plea bargain was offered on July 13 (the day Safronov was formally charged with treason). As part of the agreement, Safronov would have had to plead guilty and would have received no more than two-thirds of the maximum sentence, which is 10 years, Pavlov told TASS

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