Original Author: Anatoly Kurmanaev
Evan Gershkovich, an American reporter detained by Russia on espionage charges, appeared on Tuesday in public for the first time in months at a court hearing that confirmed his pretrial detention.
Mr. Gershkovich, a journalist for The Wall Street Journal, has been held in Russia since March. On Tuesday, a Moscow court declined to hear his appeal against a ruling in August that extended his detention by three months, according to Russian state media.
He has been detained in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison on espionage charges that he, the U.S. government and The Journal have vehemently denied. The United States has said he is wrongfully detained.
Lefortovo jail is infamous for the near-isolation and often harsh conditions imposed on its inmates. Mr. Gershkovich was last seen publicly in a court appearance in June. In photos from the courtroom on Tuesday, Mr. Gershkovich appeared standing in a glass box surrounded by Russian security officers with covered faces. He wore a yellow sweatshirt and jeans, and smiled occasionally to other members of the media who were briefly allowed into the courtroom.
Mr. Gershkovich’s lawyers attempted to challenge on Tuesday the extension of his pretrial detention, but the judge declined to consider their appeal at a brief session, citing unspecified procedural violations, according to the court’s website. If convicted, Mr. Gershkovich would face up to 20 years in a Russian penal colony.
The U.S. ambassador to Russia, Lynne M. Tracy, met with Mr. Gershkovich on Friday and was present at his hearing on Tuesday. The reporter’s family has appealed to world leaders and the United Nations for help securing his release on charges that it says are false.
A prisoner exchange, such as the one that secured the release of Brittney Griner, an American basketball star, late last year, would not take place until after a verdict is reached in the case, Russian officials have said. Ms. Griner was held for almost 10 months on a cannabis possession charge. The Biden administration is known to be working to secure an early release for Mr. Gershkovich.
No date has been set for his trial.