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Moscow court again extends pre-trial detention of jailed US journalist Gershkovich

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 26, 2024 3:09 PM 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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A Moscow court ruled on Jan. 26 to extend the pre-trial detention of jailed Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporter Evan Gershkovich, who is a U.S. citizen, until at least March 30.

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.

Russia accused him of espionage, which both the U.S. government and the WSJ strongly deny. Espionage in Russia carries a maximum prison term of up to 20 years.

The court's Jan. 26 decision means that Gershkovich will have spent a year in pre-trial detention by the end of newly announced extension. Courts have ruled repeatedly in the past to prolong the period of his stay.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in December 2023 that Russia had rejected a substantial deal aimed at freeing Gershkovich and another imprisoned U.S. citizen, Paul Whelan.

Russia has also jailed Alsu Kurmasheva, an RFE/RL journalist with dual Russian and U.S. citizenship, on charges of failing to identify as a foreign agent.

Kurmasheva's pre-trial detention has also been extended several times, and on Jan. 25 she spent her 100th day behind bars in Russia.

"Even one day unjustly behind bars is a tragedy, but a U.S. citizen wrongfully held in a Russian prison for 100 days is outrageous," said acting RFE/RL President Stephen Capus.

Kurmasheva's arrest and extended pre-trial detention has been widely condemned by RFE/RL, the EU, Western nations, and a wide variety of NGOs, including the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Amnesty International, and others.

Brittney Griner calls for more effort to free Americans detained overseas
WNBA star Brittney Griner on Dec. 8 commemorated one year since her release from Russia and called for more effort to free others currently detained overseas, highlighting the plight of wrongfully imprisoned Americans Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich, The Hill reported.

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