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Kremlin Pool Journalists Defend Ex-Colleague Indicted for Treason

Ivan Safronov faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of state treason in a closed trial. Vasily Maximov / AFP

Kremlin pool reporters have recorded a rare video address in support of a colleague who was indicted on charges of treason Monday.

Ivan Safronov, 30, was arrested last week, two months after he left his decade-long journalism career and became a media adviser to Russia’s space chief. He faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of state treason in a closed trial.

In a video published to social media Monday, Kremlin pool reporters from both state-run and independent outlets defended Safronov as a professional and questioned the treason charges.

Journalists from the government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta, the state-run news agency TASS and the pro-Kremlin tabloid Moskovsky Komsomolets demanded that investigators provide evidence against Safronov.

Pool reporters from the opposition-leaning Dozhd broadcaster, the independent RBC news website and the Vedomosti business newspaper, where Safronov worked for a year before switching careers, also echoed their colleagues’ calls to carry out an open trial. 

Safronov had occasionally filled in for the Kommersant business daily’s Kremlin pool reporter Andrei Kolesnikov in his 10 years there. 

Members of his defense team say that Safronov is suspected of cooperating with Czech intelligence since 2012. Federal Security Service (FSB) investigators believe that Czech intelligence acts under the guidance of the United States.

Colleagues and observers linked Safronov’s detention to his reporting on Russian defense matters and criticized investigators for not presenting any evidence. 

Meanwhile, police have detained at least 10 journalists who held single pickets in Safronov’s support outside Moscow's notorious Lefortovo prison where he’s being held ahead of his indictment.

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