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Spanish Journalist's Supporters Denounce Spy Claims 

FILE - People stand behind a banner reading "Freedom for our neighbor Pablo Gonzalez. Press Freedom," during a demonstration, after Gonzalez was detained by Polish authorities on espionage charges, in Nabarniz, Spain, March 6, 2022.
FILE - People stand behind a banner reading "Freedom for our neighbor Pablo Gonzalez. Press Freedom," during a demonstration, after Gonzalez was detained by Polish authorities on espionage charges, in Nabarniz, Spain, March 6, 2022.

Supporters of a Spanish journalist accused of spying for Moscow have condemned a Russian media outlet for publishing what it said were leaked allegations of espionage in the case against the reporter.

Pablo Gonzalez has been held in pre-trial custody in Poland since February last year when Russia invaded Ukraine, while authorities investigate allegations that he was spying for Moscow — accusations the journalist has denied.

Poland’s secret service says Gonzalez used his role as a journalist as a cover for espionage, but officials have not disclosed any supporting evidence.

Agentstvo, an independent Russian online media outlet, published a report Tuesday saying Gonzalez was a Russian military secret service agent who infiltrated dissident circles.

The website said it based its report on records from Gonzalez’s mobile phone and dissident contacts.

In response, the Free Pablo Gonzalez Association, which campaigns on behalf of the journalist, tweeted: “We are not going to go into these leaks [from the investigation] but we are surprised that this has happened when the lawyers have not had access to the telephone records of Pablo.

“In this way they have created accusations [against Gonzalez] without respecting the presumption of innocence, without proof of someone who has spent 14 months in prison and without respecting his rights as a European citizen.”

The association added: “If Pablo is guilty or not, the only ones who can decide that is the justice system. The only thing we would ask is a rapid and fair trial.”

Agentstvo said in its report that Gonzalez was an agent from the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service.

Nemtsov's daughter

According to the report, Gonzalez came to know Zhanna Nemtsova, the daughter of Boris Nemtsov, the Russian physicist and opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin who was assassinated in 2015.

The two met in Brussels in 2016, the report said, quoting a source from the Boris Nemtsov Foundation who is an acquaintance of Nemtsova.

Agentstvo reported that Gonzalez socialized with employees of the foundation.

“When Gonzalez was detained in Poland in February 2022, reports on the activities of Nemtsova and people from her circle were found on his digital media,” the website reported.

Gonzalez was allegedly interested in students of the Summer School of Journalism of the Nemtsov Foundation from Ukraine and the U.S.

Boris Nemtsov’s letters were allegedly found on the journalist’s digital media, which Agentstvo said could have come from Nemtsova’s laptop.

Zhanna Nemtsova declined to comment, citing a nondisclosure agreement that she has signed with the Polish authorities.

Olga Shorina, co-founder of the foundation, told Agentstvo that Gonzalez had taken part in the organization’s events but did not have access to confidential information.

VOA has attempted to verify the Agentstvo report with the Polish judicial services, but they declined to comment. Lawyers for the Spanish journalist said Polish authorities have not released details of the case against him.

The journalist’s family has links to Russia because his father moved there as a child after the Spanish Civil War. But Gonzalez is not part of the Russian intelligence service, his Spanish lawyer Gonzalo Boye has said.

Ukraine, Syria coverage

Gonzalez has covered conflicts in Ukraine and Syria for various outlets, including the left-wing Spanish newspaper Public, and Gara, a Basque nationalist newspaper. He also provided some camera work for VOA in 2020 and 2021.

He was arrested February 28, 2022, when crossing from Poland to Ukraine, where he had been reporting on the start of the Russian invasion.

Ukrainian secret service officials had earlier detained him and accused him of spying for Russia, which he denied.

He returned to Spain for a few days before leaving for Poland.

International rights organizations and press freedom commentators have criticized how Poland, a European Union nation, handled the case and demanded that Gonzalez be afforded due process and civil rights.

He is taking a case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, seeking to secure his release on the ground that the terms of his imprisonment contravene his constitutional rights.

Jim Fry, a spokesman for VOA, said: “Because of the nature of the allegations against Mr. Gonzalez, the reports he contributed to VOA remain offline and under review. We continue to monitor the situation but have nothing to add at this time.”