A Federal Security Service (FSB) investigator has rejected a petition from jailed journalist Ivan Safronov, who had requested clarification on the nature of the treason charges against him. FSB Investigator Alexander Chaban refused to grant the request on the grounds that he “misunderstood the petition,” Safronov’s lawyer Ivan Pavlov told MBX Media.
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 state secrets to Czech intelligence when he was working for Kommersant in 2017. Investigators have never specified what classified information they are referring to. Safronov maintains that he isn’t guilty and his defense lawyers are confident that he is being persecuted for his previous journalistic work. While investigators insist that Safronov’s case has nothing to do with his journalism, they did offer him a plea bargain in exchange for naming his journalistic sources. Safronov turned it down.
“I found out that the investigator somehow, as he put it, misunderstood Ivan’s petition and will not show him the documents he’s asking for,” Pavlov says. “[He] ‘misunderstood’ our petition. How could it be misunderstood?”
On September 15, Pavlov said that Investigator Chaban had granted Ivan Safronov’s application, but had yet to provide him with the requested materials. The petition, submitted on September 9, asked investigators to provide Safronov with evidence of the classified information that they are claiming he collected and allegedly gave to Czech intelligence agents. Safronov asked for the opportunity to familiarize himself with the case materials and requested that he be interrogated afterwards.
Ivan Safronov has been in custody in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison since July 7. At the beginning of September, his arrest was extended until December 7.