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Iran Press TV

Russia arrests aide to space agency chief on charges of treason

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 07 July 2020 10:21 AM

Russia has arrested an aide to the head of the country's space agency Roscosmos on charges of state treason.

Ivan Safronov, who is also a former journalist, was detained on Tuesday.

Roscosmos said the arrest was not linked to his work with the agency.

Safronov, who worked as a journalist for Russian daily newspapers Kommersant and Vedomosti, joined Roscosmos as a media advisor to General Director Dmitry Rogozin in May.

The RIA news agency quoted the FSB Security Service as saying that Safronov worked for the foreign intelligence service of an unnamed NATO country and had been leaking classified military information.

Safronov is expected to appear in court later on Tuesday.

If convicted, he could face a sentence of up to 20 years in jail.

The Kremlin dismissed reports that Safronov might have been detained for his work as a journalist with Kommersant.

Last year, TASS quoted a legal source as saying that prosecutors wanted to bring a civil case against Kommersant for revealing an unspecified state secret.

Back then, the Bell online news portal claimed that an article that Safronov had worked on – which said Egypt had signed an agreement with Russia to purchase over 20 Sukhoi SU-35 multi-role fighter jets – had subsequently disappeared from Kommersant's site.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later threatened Egypt with sanctions if it proceeded with the purchase.

Safronov himself claimed he was forced to quit Kommersant last year over an article he worked on that suggested that Valentina Matviyenko, the chairwoman of the upper house of the Russian parliament, might be replaced, a claim dismissed by Matviyenko's spokesman.

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