Court rejects complaint by US reporter Gershkovich against detention in Russia

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A Russian court on Tuesday dismissed a complaint by US reporter Evan Gershkovich against the extension of his pre-trial detention, more than six months after his arrest on spying charges which he denies.

Gershkovich, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, was detained by the Federal Security Service (FSB) on March 29 in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg on charges of espionage that carry up to 20 years in prison.

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“The appeal complaint is left without satisfaction,” Judge Yuri Pasyunin said after a closed hearing of Moscow city court. Journalists were allowed to photograph and film Gershkovich before the hearing as FSB officers, some in masks, looked on.

Reporters were allowed to listen to the court’s decision via a video link.

The decision essentially means that an earlier court decision to keep Gershkovich in detention until at least November 30 remains in force. No date has been set for his trial.

Gershkovich is the first American journalist to be detained on spy charges in Russia since the Cold War. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has told the United States that he was caught red-handed while trying to obtain military secrets, but Moscow has not made public any of the alleged evidence against him.

The White House has called the charges “ridiculous” and President Joe Biden has said Gershkovich’s detention is “totally illegal.” The Journal denies the charges and has called for his immediate release, as has his family.

A fluent Russian-speaker born to Soviet emigres and raised in New Jersey, Gershkovich moved to Moscow in late 2017 to join the English-language Moscow Times, and subsequently worked for the French news agency Agence France-Presse.

Russia announced the start of its “special military operation” in February 2022, just as Gershkovich was in London, about to return to Russia to join the Journal’s Moscow bureau.

It was decided that he would live in London but travel to Russia frequently for reporting trips, as a correspondent accredited with the Foreign Ministry.

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