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Moscow Court Denies Appeal by U.S. Journalist Evan Gershkovich in Espionage Case

Moscow Court Denies Appeal by U.S. Journalist Evan Gershkovich in Espionage Case

Apr 23, 2024

Moscow Court Denies Appeal by U.S. Journalist Evan Gershkovich in Espionage Case

A Moscow court has dismissed another appeal by Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, a 32-year-old American journalist, against his pre-trial detention on espionage charges, an accusation both he and the U.S. government have denounced as unfounded. Gershkovich, the first U.S. journalist to be arrested on spying charges in Russia since the Cold War, was detained by the Federal Security Service (FSB) on March 29 of the previous year.

The court's decision to reject Gershkovich's appeal was reported on April 23, with no trial date set at the time of reporting. His detention had previously been extended by three months until June 30, a move that was decided in a closed hearing to the press. However, during the latest court session, journalists were permitted to film Gershkovich as he stood in the defendant's glass box, where he acknowledged his colleagues with a smile and a wave.

The Wall Street Journal communicated its position on the matter through a statement, calling Gershkovich's continued detention "outrageous" and calling for the Biden administration to "do everything in their power to secure his release."

Gershkovich was arrested in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg while accredited by the Russian Foreign Ministry to work in Russia as a journalist. He has been held in Moscow's high-security Lefortovo prison. The U.S. has criticized Russia for engaging in what it describes as "hostage diplomacy" by detaining Gershkovich. On the anniversary of his arrest, President Joe Biden commented, "We will continue to denounce and impose costs for Russia's appalling attempts to use Americans as bargaining chips."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has indicated that Gershkovich could potentially be released in a prisoner exchange, but no such deal has transpired to date. Despite acknowledging "certain contacts" with the U.S. regarding Gershkovich's case, the Kremlin has declined to comment publicly about negotiations over a potential exchange.

Both Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, another American who was convicted of spying in Russia and sentenced to 16 years in 2020, have been classified by the U.S. State Department as "wrongfully detained." This designation affirms that Washington dismisses the charges against them as spurious and is committed to advocating for their release.

Russian officials have been tight-lipped about the details of the case against Gershkovich, mentioning only that he was "caught red-handed" without elaborating further. Putin has suggested that any deal to free Gershkovich might involve the release of a Russian prisoner held abroad, specifically referencing a man detained in Germany for a crime linked to the Russian state.

This ongoing case has heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow, with the U.S. accusing Russia of arresting its citizens to leverage prisoner exchanges. Gershkovich’s status as the first U.S. reporter arrested on espionage charges in Russia since Nicholas Daniloff in 1986 has drawn significant media attention and diplomatic scrutiny.

Reuters Article

Al Jazeera Article


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