PRAGUE, July 8. / TASS /. First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs of the Czech Republic Jan Hamacek declined to comment on reports that Ivan Safronov, adviser to the head of Roscosmos, a former correspondent for the Kommersant and Vedomosti newspapers, passed information to the republic’s special services, the network publication Denik N. stated on Wednesday.
"No comment," it quotes Hamacek as saying.
Safronov's lawyer, Ivan Pavlov, earlier told TASS that in the case file of his client, the United States is referred to as the country that received secret information through Czech special services.
Safronov was detained on July 7 as he left his apartment in the morning. The FSB public relations service informed that Safronov is suspected of communicating confidential state secrets to a representative of one of NATO’s intelligence services and was arrested by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) agents. Prosecution launched criminal proceedings on the count of state treason against Safronov, who is now facing 20 years behind bars. The FSB added that the investigation continues. Earlier, Roscosmos informed that Safronov had been arrested but underlined that the arrest is not linked to his current duties as Roscosmos advisor.
Lawyer Yevgeny Smirnov later told reporters, the FSB suspects Safronov of transmitting information to the Czech special services about arms deliveries from Russia to the Middle East and Africa.
Safronov pleaded not guilty in court. According to a TASS source, he refused to cooperate during questioning.
Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin said on Tuesday that the former journalist, who earlier worked for the Kommersant and Vedomosti business dailies, was "invited to cover Roscosmos activities a month and a half ago" and "did not have classified information clearance." "I did not doubt his high professionalism and personal decency," Rogozin added.
Russia’s Kommersant Daily, where Safronov worked between 2010 and 2019, issued a statement in support of Safronov, calling him "a true Russian patriot, who was covering defense and space issues because he truly cared about them." Russia’s Vedomosti and Novaya Gazeta newspapers, RBK media group and the Dozhd TV channel also declared their support for Safronov.
Some of the journalist’s former colleagues gathered outside the FSB quarters in downtown Moscow on Tuesday afternoon to show solidarity. Several journalists, including from Kommersant, were detained in the course of one-person protests.