Moscow Court Denies Appeal by Jailed American Journalist

A Moscow court on Tuesday declined to hear an appeal by The Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich against a ruling that extended his pretrial detention by three months, according to Russian state media.

Gershkovich has been in detention since his arrest in March on espionage charges that he, his employer and the U.S. government vehemently deny. The U.S. government has said the journalist is wrongfully detained. 

The court decision marks the latest setback in the legal fight for the reporter, whose pretrial detention has been extended twice — the first being in May.

That pre-trial detention was supposed to expire May 29 but it was extended to August and then again to November.

With his appeal rejected, his pretrial detention will now last until at least November 30. 

No date has been set for his trial. 

Gershkovich failed in two previous appeals against his pretrial detention.

Press freedom groups have condemned the court’s latest decision.   

“The latest denial of Evan Gershkovich’s appeal is disappointing but unsurprising. Gershkovich is a Kremlin hostage, so we can’t expect any remedy to come from the Russian legal system,” Clayton Weimers, the head of Reporters Without Borders’ U.S. bureau, said in a statement.

Gershkovich appeared in public Tuesday for the first time in months at the court hearing. In photos from the courtroom, he appeared in a glass box surrounded by Russian security officials with covered faces. 

Gershkovich’s lawyers tried to challenge the extension of his pretrial detention, but the judge declined to consider their appeal, citing unspecified procedural violations. 

Wearing a yellow sweatshirt and jeans, he smiled occasionally to members of the media who were briefly allowed inside the courtroom. 

Russia’s embassy in Washington did not immediately reply to a VOA email requesting comment.

The U.S. ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, was present at the hearing on Tuesday. 

“The U.S. position remains unwavering. The charges against Evan are baseless. The Russian government locked Evan up for simply doing his job. Journalism is not a crime,” Tracy told reporters outside the courthouse.

“Evan is fully aware of the gravity of his situation, yet he remains remarkably strong,” Tracy added.

The ambassador last visited Gershkovich in jail on Friday. After her visit, the U.S. Embassy in Russia said, “He remains strong and is keeping up with the news.” 


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