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27 Aug, 2023 18:30

Jailed US reporter launches appeal

The Wall Street Journal’s Evan Gershkovich has been accused of espionage by Russian authorities
Jailed US reporter launches appeal

Lawyers for American journalist Evan Gershkovich have filed an appeal against a Moscow court’s decision to extend his pretrial detention until December. Gershkovich is accused of "carrying out espionage in the interests of the United States."

Moscow’s Lefortovo court ruled on Thursday that Gershkovich will remain behind bars until November 30, extending his original release date of August 30 by three months. The hearing took place behind closed doors, due to the classified nature of materials involved in the case.

According to the court’s website, Gershkovich’s legal team appealed the ruling on Saturday. His lawyers previously appealed an April ruling extending his detention until August, without success.

Gershkovich was detained near a military production site in the Russian city of Ekaterinburg in late March. According to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the 31-year-old was soliciting “information amounting to a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex.” If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

In April, the court turned down an attempt by Gershkovich’s attorney to have him released on bail of 50 million rubles ($622,500), which the Wall Street Journal’s parent company was willing to pay.

Gershkovich denies any wrongdoing, and the US government insists that he is being “wrongfully detained.” The White House is reportedly considering options to have the reporter freed in a prisoner swap, but Russian authorities say that he will not be eligible for such a deal until his trial concludes and a verdict is reached.

With Gershkovich’s case yet to begin, Russian news outlet RIA Novosti reported earlier this month that a foreign citizen identified only as E. M. Spector has been jailed on allegations of espionage. Other Russian media reports have identified the suspect as Eugene ‘Gene’ Spector, a St. Petersburg-born American national, of Russian origin, convicted of bribery charges in 2021.