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Jailed US reporter Gershkovich to be tried for espionage in Russia

by Abbey Fenbert June 14, 2024 7:51 AM 2 min read
US journalist Evan Gershkovich (R), who was detained in March 2023 on spying charges during a reporting trip to Russia, is escorted out of the Lefortovsky Court building in Moscow on Jan. 26, 2024. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images)
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Evan Gershkovich, a United States citizen and Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporter who has been jailed in Russia for over a year, will stand trial in Yekaterinburg on charges of espionage, the Russian Prosecutor General's Office reported on June 13.

Gershkovich was arrested in Yekaterinburg in late March 2023 while working on a story about the Wagner mercenary group's recruiting methods, as well as Russian citizens' views on the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. He was jailed without charges for over 14 months as authorities repeatedly extended his pre-trial detention.

Russia formally accused Gershkovich of spying for the CIA and finalized his indictment on June 13. The Prosecutor General's statement did not set a date for the trial.

If convicted, Gershkovich faces a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

WSJ publisher Almar Latour and Chief Editor Emma Tucker issued a statement in response dismissing the charges as "false and baseless" and calling for Gershkovich's immediate release.

"Russia's latest move toward a sham trial is, while expected, deeply disappointing and still no less outrageous," the statement read.

Russian court extends pre-trial detention of jailed US reporter Gershkovich for 5th time
Gershkovich was arrested in Yekaterinburg in late March 2023 while working on a story about the Wagner mercenary group’s recruiting methods, as well as Russian citizens’ views on the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The publication appealed to President Joe Biden to intensify efforts to free Gershkovich.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin said on Dec. 14 that he would be open to negotiating the return of jailed U.S. citizens, including Evan Gershkovich, under "mutually acceptable" conditions.

The U.S. government is still working to return Gershkovich along with jailed U.S. citizen Paul Whelan, State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said during a press briefing following the Russian Prosecutor's announcement.

"We have been clear form the start that Evan has done nothing wrong," Miller said.

"He should never have been arrested in the first place; journalism is not a crime. The charges against him are false, and the Russian government knows that they are false. He should be released immediately."

Miller said the U.S. is "constantly pursuing" avenues for Gershkovich's release.

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