Russian authorities reportedly have again requested an extension of the pre-trial detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested on what the U.S. and the newspaper both deem to be bogus allegations of espionage nearly five months ago.
The Federal Security Service (FSB) on Wednesday sent a second detention request to hold Gershkovich in custody, the Journal reported. A 31-year-old U.S. citizen, Gershkovich had been based in Russia for nearly six years before he was arrested on March 29 while on a reporting trip to the city of Yekaterinburg.
His pre-trail detention was set to expire on May 29, but the FSB was granted an extension to Aug. 30.
Russia’s state media TAAS reported that a hearing will be held Thursday in Moscow’s Lefortovo District Court regarding the FSB’s latest request to further hold the American journalist behind bars. Russia’s criminal code says pre-trial detention can be extended for up to 12 months.
US AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA ALLOWED TO VISIT DETAINED WSJ REPORTER EVAN GERSHKOVICH FOR FIRST TIME IN MONTHS
Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a courtroom at the Moscow City Court in Moscow on April 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
Gershkovich is being held at Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, notorious for its harsh conditions.
“Evan’s wrongful detention is outrageous, and we continue to demand his immediate release,” the Journal said in a statement Wednesday.
The U.S. State Department said Gershkovich is being “wrongfully detained” by Russia.
“Journalism is not a crime. We condemn the Kremlin’s continued repression of independent voices in Russia, and its ongoing war against the truth,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an April statement, calling for both Gershkovich and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan’s release.
Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has been detained in Russia since March. (AP Photo/Dmitry Serebryakov)
IMPRISONED WSJ REPORTER EVAN GERSHKOVICH VISITED BY US AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: SAYS HE’S IN ‘GOOD HEALTH’
U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy made her third visit to the imprisoned Gershkovich on Aug. 14 — the first time she was granted permission to see him behind bars since early July.
“Ambassador Tracy said that Evan appears in good health and remains strong, despite his very challenging circumstances. Embassy officials will continue to provide all appropriate support to Evan and his family. And we expect Russian authorities to provide continued consular access,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said. “Once again, we call on the Russian Federation to immediately release Evan Gershkovich, as well as fellow, wrongfully detained, U.S. citizen, Paul Whelan.”
President Biden gestures as an image of Evan Gershkovich appears onscreen during the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington, D.C., on April 29, 2023. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Whelan was arrested in 2018 and in 2020 was sentenced to 16 years in prison for espionage.
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Gershkovich is the first American reporter to face espionage charges in Russia since September 1986, when Nicholas Daniloff, a Moscow correspondent for U.S. News and World Report, was arrested by the KGB. Daniloff was released 20 days later in a swap for an employee of the Soviet Union’s U.N. mission who was arrested by the FBI, also on spying charges.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.