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Russia’s Space Chief Advisor Arrested For Treason

A spokesman for the head of the Russian space agency has been arrested for treason, the agency says.

Roskosmos said in a statement (in Russian) that former journalist Ivan Safronov’s arrest was not linked to his current job there. There is speculation that he was detained because of his previous work reporting on military affairs.

Safronov worked at the business dailies Kommersant and Vedomosti before joining Roskosmos in May. The space agency said it was helping investigators with their inquiries.

In June 2019, court proceedings were held over the alleged disclosure by Kommersant of information constituting a state secret. The information reportedly had to do with an article co-authored by Safronov about Russia’s deliveries of Su-35 fighter aircraft to Egypt. The report was later removed from the Kommersant website.

Safronov’s father, also named Ivan, was a well-known military commentator at Kommersant. He died after falling from the fifth floor of a Moscow apartment building in 2007.

Ivan Safronov senior had been investigating claims of planned Russian arms sales to Syria and Iran at the time of his death, Kommersant said.