Russian court extends detention of WSJ journalist Evan Gershkovich
Gershkovich, 31, was detained on March 29 in the city of Yekaterinburg while reporting on the war in Ukraine and was formally charged with espionage
May 24, 2023 8:59am
Updated: May 24, 2023 8:59am
A Russian court on Tuesday extended the pre-trial detention of the Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich for three months, after being arrested on espionage charges in March.
Gershkovich, 31, was detained on March 29 in the city of Yekaterinburg while reporting on the war in Ukraine and was formally charged with espionage. According to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the reporter was collecting "information constituting a state secret about the activities of an enterprise within Russia’s military-industrial complex." He faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.
A Russian court "received a request from the investigation to extend the preventive measure in the form of detention against the accused until August 30," reported the state-run TASS news agency. After a brief hearing on Tuesday, the court ruled in favor of extending the detention in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison.
"Today our colleague, and distinguished journalist, Evan Gershkovich appeared for a pretrial hearing in a Moscow court," The Wall Street Journal said in a statement following the ruling. "While we expected there would be no change to Evan’s wrongful detention, we are deeply disappointed. The accusations are demonstrably false, and we continue to demand his immediate release."
The journalist and the Wall Street Journal deny the charges. Throughout his detention, Gershkovich has been denied consular access and a request from American officials to visit him in prison.
"We strongly object to Russia’s ongoing failure to comply with its obligations under the Consular Convention to provide us consular access to detained U.S. citizens," The Wall Street Journal quoted a State Department spokeswoman as saying. "Regardless of the hurdles, our team is focused on ensuring timely consular access to all U.S. nationals detained abroad."
In April, the U.S. state department declared that Gershkovich had been wrongfully detained by the Russian government. The designation signals that the U.S. government believes that the charges against him are unfounded. It will also allow the Biden administration to explore ways to secure Gershkovich’s release, including a prisoner swap.