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Russia extends arrest of US reporter Evan Gershkovich

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and his employer deny allegations that the U.S. citizen was spying on Russia.
Russia extends arrest of US reporter Evan Gershkovich
Posted at 4:28 AM, Mar 26, 2024

A Moscow court on Tuesday ordered Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich to remain in jail on espionage charges until at least late June, court officials said.

The 32-year-old U.S. citizen was arrested in late March 2023 while on a reporting trip and has spent nearly a year behind bars. His arrest was extended until June 30.

Photos from the courtroom released by court officials showed Gershkovich, clad in a black checkered shirt, smiling from the glass defendant's box.

Gershkovich and his employer have denied the allegations, and the U.S. government has declared him to be wrongfully detained.

His arrest in the city of Yekaterinburg rattled journalists in Russia, where authorities have not detailed what, if any, evidence they have to support the espionage charges.

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Gershkovich is being held at Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, which is notorious for its harsh conditions.

U.S. ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy attended the court hearing on Tuesday and reiterated that “the accusations against Evan are categorically untrue.”

“They are not a different interpretation of circumstances. They are fiction,” Tracy told reporters outside of the courthouse. “No justification for Evan’s continued detention, and no explanation as to why Evan doing his job as a journalist constituted a crime. Evan’s case is not about evidence, due process or rule of law. It is about using American citizens as pawns to achieve political ends.”

Analysts have pointed out that Moscow may be using jailed Americans as bargaining chips in soaring U.S.-Russian tensions over the Kremlin’s military operation in Ukraine. At least two U.S. citizens arrested in Russia in recent years — including WNBA star Brittney Griner — have been exchanged for Russians jailed in the U.S.

Gershkovich is the first American reporter to be arrested on espionage charges in Russia since September 1986, when Nicholas Daniloff, a Moscow correspondent for U.S. News and World Report, was arrested by the KGB. Daniloff was released without charge 20 days later in a swap for an employee of the Soviet Union’s U.N. mission who was arrested by the FBI, also on spying charges.

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