An appeal by American journalist Evan Gershkovich against his pretrial detention on espionage charges in Russia was rejected Tuesday by a Moscow court. The U.S. government and Gershkovich’s employer, The Wall Street Journal, strenuously deny the charges against him.
Gershkovich, the first U.S. journalist to be detained in Russia since the Cold War, was taken into custody while reporting in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg on March 29. He could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted on espionage charges.
The U.S. government declared Gershkovich “wrongfully detained” about a week ago, meaning a designated office within the U.S. State Department will lead efforts to secure his release.
“I can only say how troubling it was to see Evan, an innocent journalist, held in these circumstances,” U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy, who was permitted to visit Gershkovich in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison for the first time on Monday, told journalists outside the Moscow courthouse after Tuesday’s ruling. “We will continue to provide all available support to Evan and his family, and we expect Russian authorities to provide continued consular access to Evan. The charges against Evan are baseless, and we call on the Russian federation to immediately release him.”
“While we expected this development, it is nonetheless disappointing,” Wall Street Journal publisher Almar Latour and editor-in-chief Emma Tucker said in a joint statement. “Evan is wrongfully detained and the charges of espionage against him are false. We demand his immediate release and are doing everything in our power to secure it.” They said the next hearing for Gershkovich is scheduled for late May.
Gershkovich’s lawyers told journalists after Tuesday’s ruling that he was in “good spirits” and was grateful for the “huge support” he was receiving.
President Biden has condemned Gershkovich’s detention and spoke to his parents last week.
“We’re making it real clear that it’s totally illegal what’s happening, and we declared it so,” Mr. Biden said.
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