Ivan Safronov, a former journalist and a current adviser to the head of the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos, has been charged with treason. He is alleged to have passed secret information to the Czechs at the behest of the US.

Safronov, who previously wrote for the well-known Russian newspapers Kommersant and Vedomosti, is believed by investigators from the Federal Security Service to have been working for the Czech Republic, a NATO member state.

According to Safronov’s lawyer, Ivan Pavlov, he maintains his innocence. If found guilty, he could serve up to 20 years in jail.

Police arrest piquet participant in support of Ivan Safronov


© Sputnik / Mikhail Voskresenkiy

READ MORE: Ex-colleagues take to the streets in protest as former journalist Safronov is accused of spying for Czechs & Americans

“The charge against Ivan isn’t clear. It’s not clear who the investigators think Ivan was recruited by, and it’s not clear what information he transmitted, and to whom, how, and when,” Pavlov said.

According to investigators, Safronov was recruited by Czech intelligence in 2012, and five years later, gave them information about the export of Russian weapons. Despite denials from the authorities, he believes the charges filed against him are a response to his journalism.

Police arrest piquet participant in support of Ivan Safronov


© Sputnik / Mikhail Voskresenkiy

Safronov’s arrest has been met with outrage from the country’s journalistic community. On Monday morning, just before charges were brought, at least a dozen journalists were detained outside Moscow’s Lefortovo Prison, where Safronov is awaiting trial. Furthermore, in an unprecedented move, journalists from the Kremlin pool recorded a video in support of Safronov, their former colleague.

While working for newspapers, Safronov was an investigative journalist, specializing in Russia’s vast military-industrial complex, including arms sales to foreign countries. In May, he was appointed as an adviser to Dmitry Rogozin, the director general of Roscosmos.

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Adviser to Russian Space Agency chief arrested on suspicion of passing information to NATO intelligence