Jan 26, 2024 - World

Russian court again extends WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich's detention

U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich being escorted out of a Moscow court building on Jan. 26.

U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich being escorted out of a Moscow court building on Jan. 26. Photo: Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images

A Russian court on Friday again extended Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich's pretrial detention by another two months.

Why it matters: The extension, which was at least the fourth since Gershkovich was arrested last March on espionage charges, means he will spend roughly a year behind bars in Russia without having been convicted of a crime.

Catch up quick: Gershkovich was the first American journalist to be arrested by Russian officials in relation to an espionage case since the Cold War.

  • Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor organization to the Soviet Union's KGB, accused him of trying to obtain classified information "on the instructions of the United States."
  • The U.S. has said Russia has wrongfully detained him on false charges and has called for his immediate release. The WSJ has also "vehemently" denied the claims and called for his release.
  • His arrest coincided with a widespread crackdown on press freedoms in Russia and came just two days after the WSJ published a story by Berlin-based reporter Georgi Kantchev and him about the long-term financial strain on the Russian economy from its invasion of Ukraine.

Details: United States Consul General Stuart Wilson attended the extension hearing at Lefortovo District Court in Moscow on Friday, according to AP.

  • The public did not have access to the hearing. It took place behind closed doors because Russian authorities claim that details of the case are classified.
  • Gershkovich has been jailed at the infamous Lefortovo Prison in Moscow, which has held hundreds of political prisoners since its construction in the late 19th century.

The big picture: Russia has faced extensive backlash around the globe for detaining Gershkovich. The U.S. and more than 40 countries signed a statement last year denouncing the arrest and the Kremlin's clampdown on freedom of expression, according to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.

  • Gershkovich isn't the only U.S. journalist to have been arrested by Russia, nor is he the only wrongfully detained American in the country.
  • Russia has also arrested Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist Alsu Kurmasheva, who has dual U.S.-Russian citizenship.
  • Former Marine Paul Whelan has been wrongfully imprisoned by Russia since December 2018 on espionage charges that he, his family and the U.S. have said are false.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed in a press conference last month that there was a "dialogue" ongoing between Russia and the U.S. to secure Gershkovich's and Whelan's release.

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