Through his lawyers, Ivan Safronov stated on 9 August that following the publication of the article, he was moved to another cell with higher security measures such as “an additional bar in front of the door and an alarm system by the window”. He also claims that searches became more frequent.
Ivan Safronov was a prominent journalist reporting until May 2020 on defence issues for the Russian newspapers Kommersant and Vedomosti, before becoming an adviser for the Russian space agency Roscosmos. Arrested since 7 July 2020, Safronov is accused of “high treason” for allegedly providing state secrets related to arms sales to the Czech Republic, which he denies. Since his arrest, the authorities have failed to clarify the specific evidence against him. According to his lawyers, Safronov is being persecuted for his previous journalistic work.
In the article in question, published on 23 July in Vedomosti, he denounces the way the authorities deal with investigations into espionage and high treason. According to him, many cases are fabricated for the sole purpose of intimidation, and suspects are not given the opportunity to defend themselves. He also denounces the methods used, including lawyers pushing their clients to plead guilty and the isolation of suspects. After several hours, the online article was blocked.
Safronov also highlighted the growing number of cases of espionage in Russia, amid an intensified crackdown on dissenting voices ahead of the September 2021 legislative elections.
IFJ's affiliate, the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ), said "Accusations against journalists and attempts to force them to stop their professional activities are taking place more and more often in the world. Even on this background, the accusations against Ivan Safronov are extraordinary and fraught with very dangerous consequences. This case is under our special control, and despite all the obstacles, we are sure that the truth will be restored and that no obstacles will allow an unjust judgment to be passed. Justice and freedom for professional journalism is what we all stand for."
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “The case of Ivan Safronov, who has been in pre-trial detention for more than a year without any credible explanation, is intolerable. The tightening of his detention conditions is clearly an attempt to intimidate and silence him and other journalists. We urge the Russian authorities to drop all charges against Safronov and stop the crackdown on media.”