Moscow court declines to consider appeal by US reporter against pre-trial detention

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A Moscow court on Tuesday declined to consider the latest appeal by US reporter Evan Gershkovich against his pre-trial detention, nearly six months after his arrest on spying charges that he denies.

The court’s press service announced the decision without explanation, after a closed hearing. State news agency RIA said the appeal was being sent back to a lower court because of unspecified “procedural violations.”

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Gershkovich, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, was arrested on March 29 in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg on charges of espionage that carry up to 20 years in prison.

No date has been set for his trial, and last month his detention in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison was extended by three months to November 30.

He had failed in two previous appeals, in April and June, against his pre-trial detention.

The United States has designated Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, an American convicted of espionage in 2020 and serving 16 years in a Russian penal colony, as “wrongfully detained,” meaning that it considers the cases against them to be bogus and politically motivated.

“It is unacceptable that Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan still languish in Russian prisons on charges that are baseless,” US ambassador Lynne Tracy told reporters after Tuesday’s hearing.

“The United States will not rest until Evan and Paul are safely at home with their families and friends.”

Russia said Gershkovich was caught “red-handed” on a trip to the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, where the FSB security service said he was trying to obtain military secrets.

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