The Kremlin said Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin learned “through the media” of the 22-year prison sentence for high treason against journalist Ivan Safronov, an advisor to the Roscosmos space corporation accused of espionage after leaking information about Russia.
“I cannot say whether the president has news about the verdict, although with a high level of certainty I can assume that he has learned about it through the media,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, Russian news agency TASS reported.
“I have no right to comment on this court decision,” Peskov added, a day after the Russian Justice announced what has already become the most severe one applied by the Eurasian country’s courts in recent years under high treason crimes.
However, the Kremlin spokesman acknowledged that the sentence “is very harsh” and noted that “according to the law, in theory, (Safronov) has the right to appeal.” “According to the law, every convicted person has the right to ask for a pardon (from the president),” he noted.
In this regard, he has stressed that “there is a certain procedure collected by the law” which includes “admission of guilt.” “If I am not mistaken, Safronov has never admitted his guilt,” Peskov concluded.
Last week, the Russian Prosecutor’s Office called for a 24-year prison sentence against the journalist who, between 2015 and 2019, “discovered” and “collected” top-secret information on Russia’s military-technical collaboration with the rest of its CSTO partners, as well as with other countries in the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans.
Safronov was arrested on July 7, 2020 and placed under arrest by court decision. The Prosecutor’s Office believes that Safronov would have collaborated since 2012 with the Czech Republic’s secret services, through which he allegedly delivered to the United States information concerning technical and military cooperation between Russia and African countries.
Before being hired by Roscosmos he worked for the newspapers ‘Kommersant’ and ‘Vedomosti’, where he wrote mainly on military and space-related topics. Roscosmos assured that the case is not related to his work at the company, where he had been working since May 2020.