MOSCOW (AP) – A Russian court on Tuesday extended the arrest of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovic for three months in a closed-door hearing that marks the first secret case against a US correspondent since the Cold War. . He was detained in Russia on suspicion of spying.
Gershkovic, a 31-year-old American citizen, was ordered to remain in custody until August 30. He was arrested on suspicion of spying while on a trip to Russia in March. He, his employer and the U.S. government have denied the allegations.
Tuesday’s pretrial hearing was not announced in advance and the entire case is shrouded in secrecy.
Russian officials have not provided details of what, if any, evidence they have gathered to support the espionage charges.
Various legal proceedings related to the case have been closed to the media. Details of what was said at Tuesday’s hearing were not immediately available. The state-run TASS news agency said the conference was called off after a reporter was suspected of possessing “classified material.”
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday evening that the parents of Gerszkovic, a Soviet immigrant living in New Jersey, were visiting Moscow and met their son during a brief hearing.
“I don’t know how to describe this happiness and this sadness at the same time,” the newspaper quoted the reporter’s mother, Ella Millman. Gershkovic looked relaxed and energetic, she said, and was able to communicate with a smile.
The U.S. State Department said at least one U.S. embassy official was present at the hearing.
Mr Gershkovic’s arrest has unsettled journalists at home and sparked outrage in the West.
The US government declared Mr Gershkovic unjustly detained and demanded his immediate release. He is being held in Lefortovo Prison in Moscow.
U.S. embassy officials had been granted one visit to the imprisoned Mr. Gerszkovic since his arrest in Yekaterinburg on March 29, but Russian authorities have denied two more recent visit requests. are doing.
“We reiterate our call on Russia to honor its obligation to provide consular visitation,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters in Washington. He added that the charges against Gershkovic were “unfounded and we continue to seek his immediate release and the immediate release of Paul Whelan.”
Mr. Whelan, Michigan’s corporate security chief, is serving a 16-year prison sentence on espionage charges in a remote Russian prison. The retired US Marine was detained in 2018, but Whelan and Washington deny he was spying in Russia.
The Biden administration wanted to secure Mr. Whelan’s release during prisoner-swap negotiations that would eventually release American basketball player Britney Griner from a Russian prison last December.
Analysts say Moscow may be using imprisoned Americans as a bargaining chip in escalating tensions between the United States and Russia over the Kremlin’s military operations in Ukraine.
The Wall Street Journal said in a statement after Tuesday’s hearing that it “expected no change in Evan’s wrongful detention and is deeply disappointed.” This accusation is clearly false and we continue to call for his immediate release. ”
https://www.mcall.com/2023/05/24/russia-extends-arrest-of-us-journalist-evan-gershkovich-by-3-months/ Russia extends arrest of US journalist Evan Gershkovic by three months – wake-up call