Russia Extends U.S. Journalist’s Pretrial Detention

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Evan Gershkovich

The pretrial detention of U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, has been extended by two months until January 30, a Moscow court said on Telegram.

Gershkovich was detained in late March in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said at the time of the arrest that it had opened an espionage case against Gershkovich for collecting what it said were state secrets about the military industrial complex. He denies the charges.

If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

The White House and The Wall Street Journal have said Gershkovich was working and is a properly accredited journalist in Russia.

Since his arrest, Gershkovich has been held in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, a notorious institution dating back to tsarist times. Seen as a symbol of Soviet repression, Lefortovo is where Russia holds most suspects in espionage cases.

Evan Gershkovich

On August 24, the Lefortovo district court extended for three months, until November 30, Gershkovich’s detention. On October 10, the court rejected Gershkovich’s appeal against the extension.

A U.S. citizen based in Moscow, Gershkovich, 31, had been in Yekaterinburg reporting about the attitude of Russians toward the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine and on the Wagner mercenary group.

Lawyer Maria Korchagina told reporters that the defense asked the court to change the preventive measure for Gershkovich from incarceration to house arrest, a ban on certain actions, or 50 million rubles ($561,000) bail. The bail was to be provided by Dow Jones&Co, the owner of The Wall Street Journal.

The U.S. State Department has declared Gershkovich “wrongfully detained,” which gives the department grounds to act in the interest of Gershkovich.

Russia has been accused of detaining Americans to use as bargaining chips to exchange for Russians jailed in the United States.

RFE/RL journalist Alsu Kurmasheva, who holds dual U.S. and Russian citizenship, has been detained since last month and charged with failing to register as a “foreign agent,” a crime that carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Kurmasheva, who had traveled to Russia in May for a family emergency, was temporarily detained while waiting for her return flight on June 2 at Kazan airport in Tatarstan, where both of her passports were confiscated.

As she awaited the return of her travel documents, she was detained again and charged on October 18.

More than 30 RFE/RL journalists have been listed as “foreign agents” by the Russian Justice Ministry in their personal capacity.

RFE/RL says the “foreign agent” law amounts to political censorship meant to prevent journalists from performing their professional duties and is challenging the authorities’ moves in Russian courts and at the European Court of Human Rights.

With reporting by Current Time

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