Russian journalist Ivan Safronov appears in court in Moscow on April 4, 2022. A prosecutor recently requested that Safronov be sentenced to 24 years in prison. (AFP/Kirill Kudryavtsev)

Russian prosecutor requests 24 years in prison for journalist Ivan Safronov

Paris, August 30, 2022–In response to media reports that a Russian prosecutor on Tuesday asked that journalist Ivan Safronov be sentenced to 24 years in prison, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement of condemnation:

“The Russian prosecutor’s request that journalist Ivan Safronov be jailed for 24 years is shocking even by the low standards already set by the country’s government,” said Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director, in New York. “Authorities should immediately release Safronov, drop all charges against him, and stop jailing independent voices for their work.”

Safronov, a former military correspondent for the Kommersant and Vedomosti newspapers, has been jailed since July 2020 on treason charges, after authorities accused him of spying for a foreign country. The BBC’s Russian service has reported that he is being prosecuted in retaliation for his 2019 reporting for Kommersant on Russia’s sale of fighter jets to Egypt.

During a hearing at the Moscow city court on Tuesday, August 30, a government prosecutor requested that Safronov be imprisoned for 24 years, fined 500,000 rubles (US$8,170), and sentenced to two years of restricted freedom following his release, according to those news reports. Another prosecutor earlier suggested that Safronov could plead guilty in exchange for 12 years in prison, which the journalist refused, according to those reports and a Facebook post by Safronov’s lawyer Evgeny Smirnov.

A sentence in Safronov’s case is expected on September 5, according to media reports.

On Monday, the investigative outlet Proekt leaked a copy of Safronov’s indictment, and reported that the classified information he allegedly shared with Czech intelligence was already publicly available. On the same day, authorities denied Safronov’s request to add Proekt’s investigation to his case, according to media reports.