This “Wall Street Journal” contributor was arrested at the end of March for espionage charges, which have never been substantiated or clarified by the authorities.
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Russian justice has extended the pre-trial detention of American journalist Evan Gershkovich by two months. This period now runs “until January 30, 2024”, announced the press service of the Lefortovski court on Tuesday, November 28. This collaborator of Wall Street Journal was arrested at the end of March for “espionage”, an accusation he rejects. The extension of his detention was almost certain. For such serious charges, Russian justice almost never releases people incarcerated while awaiting trial.
In a video broadcast by the court, Evan Gershkovich listened to the court’s decision calmly, from a metal cage for the defendants. The press was not allowed to attend this hearing, which was held behind closed doors. Only a handful of journalists gathered in front of the court doors.
No evidence to support the accusations
Evan Gershkovich was arrested by Russian security services during a report in Yekaterinburg, in the Urals, on March 29. He has since been held in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, used by the Russian security services (FSB) to keep prisoners in near-total solitude. Aged 32, this respected reporter, who also worked for the AFP in Moscow in the past, is accused of espionage, a crime punishable by 20 years in prison, but he rejects these accusations, as does Washington, his newspaper , his loved ones and his family.
Russia has never substantiated its accusations or publicly provided evidence, and the entire procedure has been classified secret. No date for his trial has been set at this time. His arrest comes against the backdrop of serious diplomatic tensions between the United States and Russia, caused by the conflict in Ukraine. Washington supports kyiv militarily and financially against Moscow. The incarceration of a duly accredited foreign journalist by Russian authorities is unprecedented since Soviet times.