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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Martha McHardy

Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich loses his appeal to be released from Russian prison


Detained Wall Street Journal reporter, Evan Gershkovich, has lost his appeal to be released from prison in Russia, meaning he will remain locked up until at least 30 November.

Mr Gershkovich is accused of espionage and has now been in Russian detention for over six months. The Wall Street Journal, the US and dozens of international media organizations have condemned the charges against him as false.

Today’s decision is the third time the journalist has had his appeal for release denied by the Moscow City Court.

“The decision of the Lefortovo Court of Moscow dated August 24, 2023 on extending the period of detention in relation to Gershkovich until November 30, 2023 is left unchanged, the appeal is not satisfied,” the court decision read.

The court hearing was held behind closed doors, with reporters only allowed into the courtroom briefly at the start.

Evan Gershkovich appeared in court in the same clothes he was arrested in
— (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The 31-year-old appeared in court in a blue shirt, T-shirt and jeans, the same clothes he was arrested in, but was not permitted to speak.

The US Embassy in Moscow said in a statement that it was “deeply disappointed” that Mr Gershkovich’s appeal was rejected, adding: “Evan should be released.”

Mr Gershkovich was detained in March while on a reporting trip to the city of Yekaterinburg, about 2,000 kilometers from Moscow.

His detention has prompted international condemnation. Russia’s Federal Security Service alleged Gershkovich, “acting on the instructions of the American side, collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex.”

Mr Gershkovich and his employer, the Wall Street Journal, along with the US government, have denied the allegations.

Russian authorities have not produced any evidence to support the charges and have claimed the details of the criminal case are classified.

The 31-year-old’s arrest is the first instance of a Western journalist being arrested on espionage charges in Russia since the end of the Cold War.

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a courtroom at the Moscow City Cour
— (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

If Mr Gershkovich gets convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

In a September letter to the UN’s working group on arbitrary detention, lawyers for the WSJ’s publisher accused President Putin of using Gershkovich as a pawn and of “holding him hostage.”

The lawyers argue that Mr Putin wants to use Mr Gershkovich “to gain leverage over – and extract a ransom from – the United States, just as he has done with other American citizens whom he has wrongfully detained.”

The letter said Gershkovich’s ongoing detention “is a flagrant violation of many of his fundamental human rights.”

In June this year, nearly three dozen US senators wrote a letter to Mr Gershkovich expressing their “profound anger and concern” over his detention in the Russian prison.

The letter said a “free press is crucial to the foundation and support of human rights everywhere” and that every day he spends in a Russian prison “is a day too long.”

“We applaud you for your efforts to report the truth about Russia’s reprehensible invasion of Ukraine, a conflict that has resulted in untellable atrocities, tragedies, and loss of life,” the letter read.

It said the senators “understand the enormous burden you may feel as the Russian government uses you as a political tool.”

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