MOSCOW: A Moscow court on Tuesday said it had extended until Jan­ua­ry the detention of US reporter Evan Gersh­kovich, who was arrested in Russia earlier this year on spying charges.

The court said Gersh­kovich’s “period of detention” was extended by two more months until Jan 30, in what the Wall Street Journal, his employer, called a “brazen and outrageous attack on a free press.” The 32-year-old correspondent, the Wall Street Journal and the US government have all rejected the spying allegations.

The hearing was held behind closed doors, and no press were allowed inside. The US Embassy in Moscow said its officials were able to attend the hearing.

The extension of Gershkovich’s detention was almost certain, as Moscow rarely releases people imprisoned while awaiting trial on serious charges. Gershkovich was arrested during a reporting trip at the end of March in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, becoming the first Western reporter to be jailed on spying charges in Russia since the Soviet era.

He has been held at Moscow’s notorious Lefor­tovo prison. Both the Wall Street Journal and the United States repeated their calls for Gersh­kovich’s immediate relea­se after Tuesday’s hearing. “The accusations against him are categorically false and his continued imprisonment is a brazen and outrageous attack on a free press, which is critical for a free society,” the Wall Street Journal said in a statement.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2023

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