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Jailed Russian Ex-Journalist Safronov Kept in Jail Pending Treason Trial

Ivan Safronov faces up to 20 years in prison on suspicion of passing state secrets to the Czech Republic. Moscow Court / Moskva News Agency

Former Russian journalist Ivan Safronov has been ordered to stay in jail through March pending trial on charges of high treason, his previous employer the Kommersant business daily reported Monday.

Safronov, who was arrested in July weeks after starting a new career at state space agency Roscosmos, faces up to 20 years in prison on suspicion of passing state secrets to the Czech Republic as a journalist in 2017. Safronov denies the charges and his defense team says it does not understand the nature of the accusations.

Moscow’s Lefortovsky Court granted the investigation’s request to extend Safronov’s pre-trial detention until March 7, according to Kommersant. 

The newspaper reported that bailiffs did not allow journalists inside the courthouse, with only his girlfriend and sister allowed to attend the ruling later.

Safronov’s case has sparked an outcry among journalists, who link his arrest to past reporting on defense matters. Nearly 400 former colleagues and activists have signed a letter in support of Safronov’s application for bail, according to Kommersant.

Safronov’s lawyer Ivan Pavlov told reporters that investigators continue to withhold evidence from his defense team, Kommersant said.

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