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Evan Gershkovich

US reporter Gershkovich loses new appeal against pre-trial detention in Russia

US reporter Gershkovich loses new appeal against pre-trial detention in Russia
WSJ correspondent Evan Gershkovich looks on as he attends an appeal hearing against the extension of his arrest term on espionage charges at the Moscow City Court in Moscow, Russia, 22 June 2023. Evan Gershkovich, a US journalist at The Wall Street Journal covering Russia, was detained in Yekaterinburg on March 29. The Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) claimed that on the instructions of the American authorities, the journalist collected information constituting a state secret about one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex. He is charged under Art. 276 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation - Espionage, which could carry a sentence of up to 20 years. EPA-EFE/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

MOSCOW, June 22 (Reuters) - U.S. reporter Evan Gershkovich lost his latest appeal in a Moscow court on Thursday against his pre-trial detention on charges of espionage.

The Wall Street Journal reporter denies the spying charge, which could lead to a prison sentence of up to 20 years if he is convicted.

US Ambassador Lynne Tracy, who was not allowed inside the hearing, told reporters outside that she was “extremely disappointed” by the decision.

She praised Gershkovich, 31, for his “remarkable strength and resiliency” and reiterated the US stance that the charges against him were baseless.

“He is an innocent journalist who was carrying out journalistic activities and has been wrongfully detained. Such hostage diplomacy is unacceptable,” Tracy said.

The Kremlin has said Gershkovich was caught “red-handed” on a trip to the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, where the FSB security service said he was trying to obtain military secrets. It has provided no evidence to support that assertion, which is vehemently denied by the Wall Street Journal.

The reporter’s parents Mikhail Gershkovich and Ella Milman, who left the Soviet Union for the United States in 1979, were in court to support their son. They left afterwards without speaking to journalists.

Gershkovich, wearing blue jeans and a black T-shirt, stood in a glass box and smiled at reporters who were briefly allowed to film him before the start of the proceedings. He was appealing against his continued detention in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison ahead of his trial, for which no date has been set.

Emma Tucker, the Wall Street Journal’s editor-in-chief, told the BBC before the hearing that she had low expectations from the appeal but it was important to go through the legal process.

In April, a court denied an earlier request from Gershkovich’s lawyers that he be transferred to house arrest, agree to restrictions on his movements, or be granted bail.

He is being held at a time when relations between Washington and Moscow are at the lowest point since the Cold War after Russia launched what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Ambassador Tracy said Washington demanded the immediate release of Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, a former US marine who was arrested in Russia in 2018 and jailed for 16 years in June 2020 on spying charges.

He too is designated by Washington as wrongfully detained, a term that means the United States considers the verdicts to be bogus and politically motivated.

By Tatiana Gomozova

(Reporting by Reuters, writing by Mark Trevelyan, editing by Mark Heinrich)

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