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Russian intelligence kept Safronov under surveillance since autumn 2019 — lawyer

According to the lawyer, the evidence gathered since last September constitutes the basis of the criminal charges against his client

MOSCOW, August 5. /TASS/. Russian special services kept former journalist Ivan Safronov under surveillance since September 2019 and the evidence they gathered constitutes the basis of the criminal charges against him, Safronov’s lawyer Ivan Pavlov told TASS.

"The bill of indictment mentions two reports by some foreign intelligence units dated September 2019 and March 2020, when he reportedly met with a foreign secret service agent," Pavlov said.

According to the lawyer, the intelligence reports say that the Czech secret service agent that had received classified materials from Safronov "has special training and is involved in the operation of a foreign secret service, and the data collected by Safronov was passed to other foreign secret services."

Pavlov said he was curious why Russian special services, if they had long known about Safronov’s illegal activities and kept him under surveillance, detained him just recently.

"What were they waiting for? The charges and the materials the defense has been allowed to study leave these questions unanswered," Pavlov said. He added that the accusations against the former journalist had not been specified to this day.

Safronov worked for two Russian dailies - Kommersant and Vedomosti. In May 2020, he was offered and took the job of an adviser to the chief of the Russian space corporation Roscosmos. On July 7, he was detained and charged with high treason. Safronov pled not guilty. The federal security service FSB says he was recruited in 2012 and in 2017 he collected and passed to his handlers information about Russia’s military-technical cooperation with African countries and the Russian military’s activity in the Middle East. According to the investigation, Safronov worked for the Czech Republic’s External Relations and Information Directorate. The United States was the end recipient of the classified information.