MOSCOW: A Russian court on Tuesday rejected the latest in a series of appeals by Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich against his pre-trial detention on charges of espionage.

Gershkovich, 32, bec­ame the first US journalist arrested on spying charges in Russia since the Cold War when he was detained by the Federal Security Service (FSB) on March 29, 2023. He, his newspaper and the US government all deny he is a spy.

No date has yet been set for his trial, though his detention was extended last month to June 30 in a hearing that was closed to the press.

On Tuesday, however, journalists were allowed to film Gershkovich as he stood in a glass box in the courtroom and waved at media colleagues.

The WSJ reported that Gershkovich replied “all clear” when asked by the judge whether he understood the court’s decision.

“It continues to be outrageous that Evan has been wrongfully detained by the Russian government for more than a year,” the newspaper stated, urging the Biden administration to do everything in their power to secure his release.

Gershkovich, who was accredited by the Russian Foreign Ministry to work in Russia as a journalist, was arrested during a trip to the Urals city of Yekaterinburg.

He has been held for over a year at Moscow’s high-security Lefortovo prison. The US has accused Russia of using him for the purpose of “hostage diplomacy”.

“We will continue to denounce and impose costs for Russia’s appalling attem­pts to use Americans as bargaining chips,” Pre­sident Joe Biden said last month on the anniversary of Gershkovich’s arrest.

President Putin has said Gersh­kovich could be released at some point in exchange for a Russian prisoner held abroad.

Gershkovich and Paul Whe­lan, an American convicted of spying against Ru­s­sia and sentenced to 16 years in 2020, have both been designated by the US State Department as “wr­o­n­­­gfully detained”.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2024

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