Russian court extends WSJ journalist Evan Gershkovich's pre-trial detention

Undated image of Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. File Photo courtesy of Evan Gershkovich/LinkedIn
Undated image of Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. File Photo courtesy of Evan Gershkovich/LinkedIn

March 26 (UPI) -- A Russian court extended Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich's pre-trial detention extended to at least June 30, marking a year he has been in the custody of the Federal Security Service.

Gershkovich was arrested in Yekaterinburg on a reporting trip when FSB, similar to the old Soviet KGB, charged him with espionage. All of his attempts to appear in his pre-trial detention have been denied.


"This verdict to further prolong Evan's detention feels particularly painful as this week marks one year since Evan was arrested and wrongfully detained in Yekaterinburg simply for doing his job as a journalist," U.S. Ambassador Lynne M. Tracy said on Tuesday, according to ABC News.

"The accusations against Evan are categorically untrue. They are not a different interpretation of circumstances, they are fiction."

Much of Gershkovich's hearings have happened privately and Russian investigators have yet to speak publicly about the evidence against him. The Wall Street Journal and the State Department have repeatedly denied that the reporter was involved in espionage.

"It's a ruling that ensures Evan will sit in a Russian prison well past one year," The Wall Street Journal said about Tuesday's delay. "It was also Evan's 12th court appearance, baseless proceedings that falsely portray him as something other than what he is -- a journalist who was doing his job.


"He should never have been detained. Journalism is not a crime, and we continue to demand his immediate release."

In February, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that Gershkovich could be released as part of a prisoner exchange. He told former Fox News host Tucker Carlson during an interview that he would consider such an exchange for someone for a Russian in U.S. custody.

In a joint statement, Emily Wilkins, president of the National Press Club, and Gil Klein, president of the National Press Club Journalism Institute, blasted the Russian court's decision.

"When Evan Gershkovich was unjustly detained a year ago this week, Russian officials were quick to say 'he was caught red-handed' breaking the law. They made it seem as if the case were a slam-dunk. Nothing could be further from the truth," they wrote in a statement.

"Under Russian law, prosecutors are allowed to extend detention beyond the normal limit of one year for 'complex cases' -- and only under rare occasions. Today the prosecution took that step -- extending Evan's detention to late-June. This is outrageous.

"This is not about detention. It is not about process. It is not about needing more time to organize a complex case. This is simply punishment for Evan. It is deprivation of liberty. It is certainly a violation of Evan's rights," they said.


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