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10 Oct, 2023 14:38

WSJ reporter remanded in custody in Russia

Evan Gershkovich will remain in pretrial detention on espionage charges, a court has ruled
WSJ reporter remanded in custody in Russia

Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal correspondent accused of espionage in Russia, will remain in pretrial detention after the Moscow City Court denied an appeal for his conditional release.

Gershkovich’s defense team sought to overturn a decision to extend his detention until at least November 30, which was issued in late August by the lower-jurisdiction Lefortovo District Court of Moscow. The complaint was rejected on Tuesday during a session behind closed doors, media covering the proceedings said.

The 31-year-old journalist was arrested by the Federal Security Service (FSB) in Ekaterinburg in March. He was accused of trying to illegally obtain classified information about the Russian defense industry, using his press credentials as a cover.

The US government, the Wall Street Journal, and Gershkovich himself have firmly denied any wrongdoing.

Days after the arrest, the newspaper compared what happened to its correspondent to hostage-taking. It urged Washington to consider “diplomatic and political escalation” against Moscow, for example, by expelling the Russian ambassador.

Dow Jones, the WSJ’s parent company, condemned the latest court ruling and reiterated a call for the defendant to be freed unconditionally, viewing the entire case as illegitimate.

“It has now been more than six months since Evan’s unjust arrest, and we are outraged that he continues to be wrongfully detained,” a statement quoted by the newspaper said.

According to Western media, Washington is conducting a worldwide hunt for “Russian spies,” whom it could get into US custody for a possible prisoner swap for Gershkovich and another American, former Marine Paul Whelan, who is currently serving a sentence in Russia for espionage.

One such person is Sergey Cherkasov, who Brazilian authorities jailed for using a fake identity and whom the WSJ marked as a suitable asset for putting pressure on Moscow. In July, the Brazilian Justice Ministry rejected a US extradition request, indicating that Cherkasov would be handed over to Russia instead.