A Moscow court on Monday imposed the unprecedented sentence along with a 500,000-ruble fine, adding an additional two years of ‘restricted freedoms’ upon eventual release for the former military correspondent.

Held since July 2020 on trumped up charges of spying for a foreign country, it is widely believed that the prosecution was brought in retaliation for Safronov’s 2019 reporting on Russia’s sale of military jets to Egypt. According to media reports, the information the journalist allegedly shared was already publicly available.

A former reporter for Kommersant and Vedomosti newspapers, Safronov plans to appeal the sentence. WAN-IFRA calls on the Russian authorities to grant his appeal and end their pursuit of independent journalism.

“We are appalled at the sentence handed down to Ivan Safronov and urge the Russian judicial system to hear his appeal and reverse this judgement as soon as possible,” said a statement from WAN-IFRA.

“No journalist should face such charges simply for doing their job. Russia’s obsession with silencing journalists and critical voices is entirely counterproductive – it simply serves to criminalise the act of holding power to account and further entrenches corruption and bad governance. No system, no matter how politically motivated, can say this is preferable to permitting freedom of speech.”

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