MOSCOW -- Investigators of the Federal Security Service have formally charged an aide to the chief of Russia's Roskosmos space agency, journalist Ivan Safronov, with high treason.
Safronov's lawyer Ivan Pavlov said his client was indicted on July 13, adding that he reiterated his previous not guilty plea.
Moscow police on July 13 detained about 20 supporters of Safronov near the Lefortovo detention center in the Russian capital, where Safronov is being held.
Among the detained supporters of Safronov were a member of the journalists' labor union, Sofia Rusova, and reporters Pyotr Parkhomenko, Maria Karpenko, Olga Alenova, Alla Pugachyova, and Taisia Bekbulatova.
Safronov, who has worked since May as an adviser to Roskosmos head Dmitry Rogozin, is a prominent journalist who covered the military-industrial complex for the newspapers Kommersant and Vedomosti.
He was arrested on July 7 amid allegations that he had passed secret information to the Czech Republic in 2017 about Russian arms sales in the Middle East.
Safronov has rejected the accusations and many of his supporters have held pickets in Moscow and other cities, demanding his release.
Human rights organizations have issued statements demanding Safronov’s release and expressing concerns over the intensifying crackdown on dissent in Russia.
The chairman of the Union of Journalists of Russia, Vladimir Solovyov, said on July 13 that his organization will "continue to closely monitor Safronov's case"