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US reporter held by Russia on spying charges to stay in jail

By The Associated Press Associated Press

An American journalist arrested on spying charges as part of a sweeping Kremlin crackdown on press freedom amid the war in Ukraine will remain jailed, a Russian judge ruled Tuesday. Evan Gershkovich and the U.S. government vehemently deny the allegations.

The Wall Street Journal reporter is the first U.S. correspondent since the Cold War to be detained in Russia on spying allegations and his arrest rattled journalists in the country and elicited outrage in the West.

Dozens of journalists crowded into the courtroom to catch a glimpse of Gershkovich. Clad in pale-blue jeans and a plaid shirt, the 31-year-old reporter looked calm and even smiled at times as he stood inside a glass cage to appeal his detention.

Russian journalist Vasily Polonsky posted a video online of Gerhskovich nodding as Polonsky shouted at him: ”Evan, hang in there. Everyone says hello!”

Russia’s Federal Security Service detained the 31-year-old in Yekaterinburg in March and accused him of trying to obtain classified information about a Russian arms factory.

Gershkovich, his employer and the U.S. government deny he was involved in spying and have demanded his release.

”Evan is a member of the free press who right up until he was arrested was engaged in newsgathering. Any suggestions otherwise are false,” the Journal has said in a statement.


Last week, the U.S. officially declared that Gershkovich was ”wrongfully detained.”

A judge with the Moscow City Court rejected the reporter’s appeal of his detention on Tuesday, ruling that he must stay in jail until at least May 29.

Gershkovich could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Russian lawyers have said past investigations into espionage cases took a year to 18 months, during which time he could have little contact with the outside world.

He has been held in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, which dates from the czarist era and has been a terrifying symbol of repression since Soviet times.

The arrest comes at a moment of bitter tensions between the West and Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine and as the Kremlin intensifies a crackdown on opposition activists, independent journalists and civil society groups.

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