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Russian court extends pre-trial detention of jailed US reporter Gershkovich for 5th time

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 26, 2024 3:31 PM 2 min read
U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich, arrested on espionage charges, stands inside a defendant's cage before a hearing to consider an appeal on his arrest at the Moscow City Court in Moscow on April 18, 2023. (Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP via Getty Images)
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A Moscow court ruled on March 26 to again extend the pre-trial detention of Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporter Evan Gershkovich, a U.S. citizen who has been jailed awaiting charges in Russia for almost a year.

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.

Gershkovich has now been handed a three-month extension of his pre-trial detention until at least June 30.

"This verdict to further prolong Evan’s detention feels particularly painful, as this week marks one year since Evan was arrested and wrongfully detained in Yekaterinburg simply for doing his job as a journalist," said Lynne Tracy, the U.S. Ambassador to Russia.

Gershkovich's pre-trial detention has been repeatedly extended.

"It was also (Gershkovich's) 12th court appearance, baseless proceedings that falsely portray him as something other than what he is—a journalist who was doing his job," the WSJ said in a statement.

"He should never have been detained. Journalism is not a crime, and we continue to demand his immediate release."

Russia has yet to publicly present evidence of the supposed crimes that Gershkovich is accused of committing.

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.

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