A Russian YouTuber famous for exploring abandoned sites was arrested and charged with obtaining state secrets last week, authorities and activists said Wednesday.
Andrei Pyzh has uploaded hundreds of videos showing his visits to industrial sites and abandoned bunkers to his YouTube channel, which has about 800,000 subscribers.
He faces up to eight years in jail if found guilty of illegally obtaining and disseminating state secrets.
A Moscow court ruled Aug. 6 that Pyzh remain in pre-trial custody until October, Reuters cited the court as saying.
It is unclear if Pyzh denies the charges against him.
Pyzh’s lawyer said his client’s arrest was not linked to his blogs. However, news outlets pointed to anonymous comments on the vlogger’s past Instagram posts promising “big trouble” for gaining access to a functioning radar station that Russia uses for its nuclear strike early warning system.
Friends and family said they have lost contact with Pyzh since Aug. 5 and reports said his court-appointed lawyer did not inform them of his detention either.
“He was in total isolation without understanding or support,” a member of Moscow’s public monitoring commission told the Podyom Telegram channel.
Pyzh’s friends said they tried to keep a lid on news of his detention and arrest coming to light in hopes of making it easier to secure his release through lack of publicity.
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.
Russian-Born ‘Fake Heiress’ Anna Sorokin Released From U.S. Prison
A Russian-born socialite has been released from U.S. prison after completing a nearly four-year sentence for theft and larceny, the Insider reported Thursday.
A New York City court in 2019 sentenced Anna Sorokin to at least four years in prison for posing as a German heiress named Anna Delvey and scamming banks and friends into giving her $275,000. A judge counted 561 days spent on Rikers Island toward her sentence.
Citing New York State Department of Corrections records, The Insider reported that Sorokin was released from the Albion Correctional Facility in upstate New York.
The Department of Corrections records reportedly gave her “merit released to parole” due to her good behavior in prison.
Sorokin faces deportation to Germany, which the Insider reports could be complicated by coronavirus travel restrictions and the Biden administration’s moves to limit deportations.
The 30-year-old is reportedly appealing the charges, with the Insider quoting her attorney saying “she has her whole identity riding on this.”
Sorokin had paid restitution to her victims from a $320,000 advance she received from Netflix to produce a limited series of her time as a “Soho grifter,” the Insider reported.
Sorokin was born in Russia in 1991 and moved with her family to Germany at age 16, New York magazine reported in a 2018 profile that drew widespread attention to her case.