Russian-Ukrainian citizen Andrei Pyzh was arrested on Aug. 6 on charges of obtaining and spreading state secrets. Pyzh has uploaded hundreds of videos showing his explorations of abandoned bunkers and industrial sites to his “urbanturizm” YouTube channel, which has about 800,000 subscribers.
“He’s charged with transporting data related to metro lines in Moscow to Ukraine,” TASS reported Wednesday, citing an unnamed law enforcement source.
Pyzh is also suspected of taking information related to Metro-2, an alleged secret underground metro system, the source said. The authorities have neither confirmed nor denied the existence of Metro-2.
“This information is treated as a state secret,” they said.
A popular urban exploration YouTuber from Russia is suspected of sending secret information about the Moscow metro to Ukraine, the state-run TASS news agency reported weeks after his arrest.
Investigators seized the information on a USB flash drive that Pyzh had apparently taken with him to Ukraine, his attorney Alexei Khalzov told the Open Media investigative website last week.
“He didn’t have the goal of selling it. He wanted to use it for personal reasons as part of his blog to make a good video,” Khalzov said.
Pyzh faces between three and eight years in jail if found guilty of illegally obtaining and disseminating state secrets.
A Moscow court ruled to place Pyzh in pre-trial custody until Oct. 6.
Pyzh does not admit his guilt, a prison monitoring commission member told TASS. His attorney Khalzov previously said that Pyzh made a partial admission in fear of facing a harsher charge of espionage.
A second unnamed source told TASS that Pyzh had been under surveillance by the authorities “for a long time.” The obtained information is currently under expert examination to determine whether it contains state secrets, the source said.
Russian authorities have accused or tried a wide range of people, including journalists and scientists, of disclosing state secrets or high treason in recent years. Critics have called the charges manifestations of the state’s paranoia.