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Evan Gershkovich’s pretrial detention extended for three months

WASHINGTON — A Russian court on Tuesday extended the pretrial detention of American journalist Evan Gershkovich by about three months, until August 30.

The Wall Street Journal reporter was arrested in Yekaterinburg in March on charges of espionage, which he, his employer and the US government deny. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

“By decision of the Lefortovsky District Court of Moscow dated May 23, 2023, the term of detention of Evan Gershkovich, charged with committing a crime under Article 276 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, has been extended for three months and one day, i.e. until August 30, 2023,” reads the court ruling.

Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a courtroom in Moscow on April 18, 2023.File Alexander Zemlianitchenko / AP

The decision comes after a Moscow court upheld Gershkovich’s pre-trial detention in April.

The Wall Street Journal said in a statement that Gershkovich appeared for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday. “While we expected there would be no change in Evan’s wrongful detention, we are deeply disappointed,” the newspaper said. “The charges are patently false and we continue to demand his immediate release.”

Last month, the Biden administration named Gershkovich as wrongfully detained, transferring his case to the Office of the President’s Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department, which will allow the government to use resources further to secure his release.

Gershkovich’s colleagues at the Journal reacted to the court’s decision on Twitter.

“A horribly disappointing development as we continue to wait for justice for our colleague @wsj”, writing journalist Melissa Korn.

“RELEASE EVAN NOW,” tweeted journalist Joe Flint.

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken demanded Gershkovich’s release in a statement on World Press Freedom Day.

“Far too many governments are using repression to silence free speech, including retaliating against journalists who are simply doing their job,” Blinken said. “We again call on the Russian authorities to immediately release Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and all other journalists detained for exercising freedom of expression.”

President Joe Biden discussed Gershkovich during his remarks at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last month, saying the reporter had “absolute courage.”

“We work every day to secure his release, looking for opportunities and tools to bring him home,” Biden told attendees. “We keep the faith.”


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