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Russian court upholds reporter Evan Gershkovich's pre-trial detention

On Thursday, a Russian court upheld Evan Gershkovich's detention on espionage charges that have been described as a "sham" by U.S. officials. File Photo courtesy of Evan Gershkovich/LinkedIn
On Thursday, a Russian court upheld Evan Gershkovich's detention on espionage charges that have been described as a "sham" by U.S. officials. File Photo courtesy of Evan Gershkovich/LinkedIn

June 22 (UPI) -- A Moscow court on Thursday refused to end the pre-trial detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

Gershkovich has been detained since he was arrested by Russian authorities in March on espionage charges that have been denounced as illegitimate by the U.S. government and journalism watchdogs.

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U.S. ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, attended Thursday's hearing, along with Gershkovich's parents, Mikhail and Ella, who traveled to Moscow from the United States.

In court, Gershkovich could be seen smiling and joking with his parents.

"Such hostage diplomacy is unacceptable, and we call on the Russian Federation to release him," Tracy told reporters.

Earlier this year, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Gershkovich "was caught red-handed."

Zakharova claimed Gershkovich's journalism "was merely a cover for spying."

The U.S. State Department denounced the charges against Gershkovich as a "sham."

"We've been very clear that Evan is wrongfully detained, being wrongfully detained and targeted for doing his job," said State Department Spokesperson

Reporters Without Borders has described Gershkovich as a "Russian state hostage."

In addition to Gershkovich, Russia is still holding U.S. citizen Paul Whelan, who was detained on espionage charges in 2018.

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In December, WNBA player Britney Griner was released from Russian custody after being held for 10 months on drug charges. Griner was exchanged for convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout.

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