Russia extends detention of American journalist Gershkovitch | Russian Court News

A Moscow court has extended the journalist’s arrest on espionage charges, ensuring a prison sentence of more than a year.

Russia has extended the pre-trial detention of American journalist Evan Gershkovich by three months.

A Moscow city court on Tuesday ordered the Wall Street Journal reporter, 32, to be held until June 30 while he awaits trial on espionage charges. The US embassy denounced the decision, guaranteeing journalists to spend at least a year in prison, as evidence that Russia is “using American citizens as pawns to achieve its political goals.”

Gershkovych and the Journal have consistently denied the spying charges since he was arrested in March 2023 while on assignment in the Ural region city of Yekaterinburg. The US government declared him wrongfully imprisoned.

Russian authorities have not detailed any evidence supporting the charges, if any.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynn Tracy attended the court hearing and reiterated that “the charges against Evan are categorically false.”

“Those are not different interpretations of the situation. They are fiction,” Tracy told reporters outside court.

The diplomat argued that “Evan’s continued detention is unjustified and there is no explanation as to why Evan’s carrying out his duties as a journalist constitutes a crime.”

“Evan’s case is not about evidence, due process, or the rule of law,” she continued. “It’s about using the American people as pawns to achieve political ends, as the Kremlin is doing in the Paul Whelan case.”

The U.S. government has promised to do “whatever it takes” to bring Gershkovic and former Marine Paul Whelan, who was convicted in 2020 on espionage charges, a charge he also denies. He served 16 years in a penal colony.

Analysts have suggested that the Russian government may be using the imprisoned American national as a bargaining chip amid heightened tensions between the United States and Russia over the Kremlin’s military operations in Ukraine. .

The arrest has also been criticized for its impact on other journalists working in Russia.

At least two Americans arrested in Russia in recent years, including WNBA star Brittney Greiner, have been exchanged with Russians imprisoned in the United States.

Gershkovitch is the first American reporter to be arrested on spying charges in Russia since September 1986, when U.S. News & World Report’s Moscow correspondent Nicholas Danilov was arrested by the KGB.

Danilov was released without charge 20 days later, replacing an employee of the Soviet Union’s mission to the United Nations who was also arrested by the FBI on suspicion of espionage.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Mr. Gershkovych could one day be released in exchange for Russian prisoners held abroad, but so far no such deal has materialized.

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