Russian Judge Agrees to Extend Evan Gershkovich’s Detention for Three Months

MOSCOW — Meeting behind closed doorways, a Moscow court docket on Tuesday prolonged the arrest of Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal correspondent accused of espionage, for greater than three months, till Aug. 30.

The refusal of bail and the extension of Mr. Gershkovich’s detention had been extensively anticipated, though Russia has offered no proof to again the espionage accusation. The United States authorities and The Wall Street Journal have vehemently rejected the fees, saying that “reporting is not a crime.”

Mr. Gershkovich’s mother and father, Ella Milman and Mikhail Gershkovich, waited for greater than an hour exterior the courtroom earlier than being allowed into the listening to. It was their first sighting of their son since his arrest on March 29. The couple, who dwell in New Jersey, arrived in Moscow on Saturday.

State Department spokesman Matt Miller advised reporters in a briefing on Tuesday that the United States didn’t prepare journey for Gershkovich’s mother and father to attend their son’s listening to. He added that, whereas he can solely think about their ache, the United States has suggested all Americans to keep away from touring to Russia.

After the listening to, Mr. Gershkovich’s mother and father didn’t touch upon what that they had seen, however had been whisked away within the firm of one in every of Mr. Gershkovich’s attorneys. Ms. Milman wore a “Free Evan” button. Before going into the listening to, Mr. Gershkovich’s father stated, “We hope he is doing great and that he can be as strong as his mother.”

Mr. Gershkovich, 31, has been held on the Lefortovo jail since he was detained on March 29 throughout a reporting journey to the central Russian metropolis of Yekaterinburg. If convicted, Mr. Gershkovich would face up to 20 years in a Russian penal colony.

A prisoner trade, such because the one which secured the discharge of the U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner late final 12 months, wouldn’t happen till after a verdict is reached within the case, Russian officers have stated. However, the Biden administration is thought to be working to safe an early launch.

The United States authorities, The Wall Journal Journal, quite a few colleagues, teams supporting press freedom and outstanding worldwide officers have all condemned Mr. Gershkovich’s detention and referred to as the accusations made towards him totally baseless.

The Journal stated in a press release following the listening to that although “we expected there would be no change to Evan’s wrongful detention, we are deeply disappointed.”

“The accusations are demonstrably false, and we continue to demand his immediate release,” it stated.

U.S. diplomats had stated it was nearly sure that Mr. Gershkovich’s detention can be prolonged on the listening to and his utility for bail denied. Even at the perfect of occasions, a pretrial investigation of an espionage case usually takes months, and a 12 months could elapse earlier than a verdict is reached.

Russian-American relations are in a state of acute rigidity over the battle in Ukraine, a battle that’s nonetheless formally referred to in Russia as a “special military operation,” and President Vladimir V. Putin has launched into a drive to suppress impartial information shops and free speech normally.

In Russia, the phrase “war” has come to be used more and more, however not to describe the invasion of Ukraine ordered by Mr. Putin early final 12 months. Rather, it’s used to characterize a broad confrontation with the West — the United States, NATO and the European Union — from which there’s, within the prevailing Russian view, no turning again.

Before the arrest of Mr. Gershkovich, Russia had not charged a Western journalist with espionage for the reason that Cold War. At a listening to in a Moscow courtroom on April 18, journalists had been allowed to enter and noticed Mr. Gershkovich standing in a glass cage, pink handcuff marks seen on his wrist. He flashed a smile and, by way of his lawyer, declared his willpower to defend his proper to work freely as an accredited journalist.

Lefortovo jail is notorious for the close to isolation and sometimes harsh circumstances imposed on its inmates. Mr. Gershkovich has been typically remoted, the diplomats stated, however his attorneys have been allowed to see him usually.

The U.S. ambassador to Russia, Lynne M. Tracy, was allowed to go to Mr. Gershkovich on April 17, below intense Russian scrutiny. The Russian authorities have denied two requests for consular entry since.

Two American consular officers had been, after a protracted wait, allowed into the courtroom similtaneously Mr. Gershkovich’s mother and father on Tuesday. Like his mother and father, they left with out remark.

Dmitri S. Peskov, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, has stated that Mr. Gershkovich was caught “red-handed,” however has not elaborated. Russia has not provided any proof to assist the accusation of espionage towards a journalist identified for his deep knowledge of the country.

Michael Crowleycontributed reporting from Washington.

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