Former journalist Ivan Safronov, arrested on Monday, has been accused of transmitting classified information to Czech intelligence, at the behest of the US. His lawyer says he is being persecuted for his previous journalism work.

At the time of his arrest, Safronov was working as an adviser to Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos. He had previously written for well-known newspapers Kommersant and Vedomosti.

According to Safronov’s lawyer, Ivan Pavlov, investigators believe he was recruited by the Czechs in 2012, and sent them classified information in 2017 via the internet. The information regards Russian arms supplies to the Middle East and Africa. Safronov is suspected of high treason, and he could face up to 20 years in prison.

The Czech Republic’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Jan Hamacek has refused to comment.

“Investigators believe that the United States has become the ultimate recipient of the classified information from Safronov,” the lawyer said. (RT)