Russian space official, ex-journalist, charged with treason

An adviser to the head of the Russian space agency has appeared in court on charges of treason.

Roscosmos said in a statement (in Russian) that former journalist Ivan Safronov’s arrest was not linked to his current job there.

Russia’s FSB security service said he was suspected of spying for a Nato country. He has denied the charges.

Previously he reported on military topics for two major Russian business dailies – Kommersant and Vedomosti.

Separately on Tuesday journalist Taisiya Bekbulatova was detained after police raided her flat.

Bekbulatova, the chief editor of independent news magazine Holod Media, is reported to be a friend of Safronov.

She was questioned as a witness, Kommersant reports, and later told reporters she was unable to answer their questions because of the nature of the case. She did say the FSB had confiscated her computer and other technical equipment during their search.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said of the treason allegations facing Safronov: “As far as we know this is not linked to his prior journalistic activity in any way.”

Safronov joined Roscosmos as information adviser to director general Dmitry Rogozin in the middle of May.

The space agency said it was helping investigators with their inquiries.

The former journalist faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted.


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