Evan Gershkovich to Stay in Russian Prison, Court Rules

More than six months after he was arrested during a reporting trip, Evan Gershkovich, an American journalist, was ordered by a Russian court on Tuesday to remain in a high-security prison in Moscow until Nov. 30 while he awaits trial on an espionage charge.

Journalists were allowed to see Mr. Gershkovich before the closed hearing in Moscow, where he appeared in a transparent cage wearing jeans and a checkered shirt, according to videos and photographs from the courtroom.

Mr. Gershkovich, a correspondent in Russia for The Wall Street Journal, had filed an appeal seeking to overturn a decision by a lower court to extend his pretrial detention, and the ruling against him was in keeping with previous efforts. He has denied the charge.

The arrest of Mr. Gershkovich on a spying charge was the first for an American journalist since the end of the Cold War, highlighting the extent to which the Russian invasion of Ukraine has ruptured the last shreds of trust between Moscow and Washington.

His detention, along with that of other American citizens, including the American basketball star Brittney Griner, has raised suspicions that the Kremlin now views American citizens on its soil as high-profile assets that can be traded for high-value Russians held in U.S. custody.

Agents of the Russian Federal Security Service, or the F.S.B., the main successor to the Soviet KGB, arrested Mr. Gershkovich at the end of March in the city of Yekaterinburg, about 900 miles east of Moscow. Mr. Gershkovich, 31, was transferred to Moscow, where he has been held in the Lefortovo Prison, infamous for its strict conditions.

The espionage case against Mr. Gershkovich, who was accredited to work in Russia by its Foreign Ministry, has been classified. In a statement issued shortly after Mr. Gershkovich was arrested, the F.S.B. asserted that Mr. Gershkovich had been collecting state secrets about a Russian “military-industrial enterprise.” The Kremlin said that Mr. Gershkovich had been caught “red-handed.”

Mr. Gershkovich, the American government — which designated him as wrongfully detained — and The Journal have vehemently denied the accusations. His supporters at the Journal, along with journalists at many other publications, have campaigned for his release.

In a statement on Tuesday, Dow Jones, the Journal’s parent company, called the accusations against Mr. Gershkovich “categorically false.”

“We continue to demand his immediate release,” the statement said. “We will not rest until he is home.”

The Russian government has not presented any evidence of its case against Mr. Gershkovich, and no trial date has been set. Russian lawyers said it might be months before Mr. Gershkovich’s case goes to trial, which can then take around three months to hear. The espionage charge could bring up to 20 years in prison.

Russian officials have hinted that they have been in touch with their American counterparts about a possible exchange, but only after the legal case against him runs its course.

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