CPJ dismayed by 22-year sentence for Russian journalist Ivan Safronov

Russian journalist Ivan Safronov stands in a Moscow courtroom on July 16, 2020. A Russian court sentenced Safronov to 22 years in prison on September 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Paris, September 5, 2022 — In response to a Russian court’s sentencing on Monday of journalist Ivan Safronov to 22 years in prison on trumped-up charges, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement strongly condemning the decision:

“The 22-year prison sentence for Ivan Safronov, guilty of no other crime than doing his job as a journalist, is simply unacceptable and utterly shocking, and must be immediately reversed,” said Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director, in New York. “Russian authorities must not contest Safronov’s appeal, release him immediately, and stop targeting journalists with political trials aimed at suppressing and terrorizing independent voices.”

On Monday, September 5, a court in Moscow convicted Safronov, a former military correspondent for the Kommersant and Vedomosti newspapers, of treason, and sentenced him to 22 years in prison and imposed a fine of 500,000 rubles (US$8,240), according to multiple media reports. Safronov plans to appeal the verdict, media reported.

The journalist was also sentenced to two years of restricted freedom following his release, and will be eligible for parole in 14 years, Russian state news agency TASS reported.

Earlier today, the European Union delegation to Russia called on Russian authorities to drop the charges against the journalist and release him unconditionally.

Safronov has been jailed since July 2020 after authorities accused him of spying for a foreign country. Last week, media reported that the classified information Safronov allegedly shared was already publicly available and that he was prosecuted in retaliation for his 2019 reporting on Russian’s sale of fighter jets to Egypt.

On Tuesday, August 30, a Russian prosecutor requested that Safronov be jailed for 24 years.