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Russia upholds detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, will remain in jail

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A Wall Street Journal reporter who was detained in Russia on espionage charges lost his appeal against his arrest on Tuesday, meaning he will stay in jail until at least the end of November.

“The appeal complaint is left without satisfaction,” Judge Yuri Pasyunin said after a closed hearing of Moscow city court. Journalists were allowed to photograph and film Gershkovich before the hearing as FSB officers, some in masks, looked on.

Evan Gershkovich, wearing a blue shirt, T-shirt and jeans, appeared in a glass defendant’s cage at Moscow City Court as he once again appealed his release. He stared at the cameras in court with a blank expression.

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It was the second time in less than a month that the journalist had appeared before a judge after the Moscow court declined to hear his appeal in September owing to unspecified procedural violations.

The latest decision means Gershkovich, 31, will remain jailed at least until November 30, unless an appeal is heard in the meantime and he is released – an unlikely outcome.

The journalist was detained in March while on a reporting trip to the city of Yekaterinburg, about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) east of Moscow, and a judge ruled in August that he must stay in jail until the end of November.

The court proceedings are closed because prosecutors say details of the criminal case are classified.

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Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich detained in Russia on espionage charges

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich detained in Russia on espionage charges

Russia’s Federal Security Service alleged Gershkovich, “acting on the instructions of the American side, collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex.”

Gershkovich and the Journal deny the allegations, and the US government has declared him to be wrongfully detained. Russian authorities haven’t detailed any evidence to support the espionage charges.

He is the first American journalist to be detained on spy charges in Russia since the Cold War. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has told the United States that he was caught red-handed while trying to obtain military secrets, but Moscow has not made public any of the alleged evidence against him.
Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a courtroom at the Moscow City Court in Russia on Tuesday. Photo: AP
Analysts have pointed out that Moscow may be using jailed Americans as bargaining chips after US-Russian tensions soared when Russia sent troops into Ukraine. At least two US citizens arrested in Russia in recent years – including WNBA star Brittney Griner – have been exchanged for Russians jailed in the US.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has said it will consider a swap for Gershkovich only after a verdict in his trial. In Russia, espionage trials can last for more than a year.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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