Confusion surrounds latest Gershkovich appeal 

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich appealed his pre-trial detention on espionage charges in Russian court on Tuesday, but contradictory statements from the court and Russian state media caused confusion on the result of the appeal.

The Moscow City Court said it had sent the appeal back to a lower court on procedural grounds, while state media Tas reported that the appeal was denied, meaning the journalist would have to remain in jail until at least Nov. 30.

Gershkovich was arrested in April on espionage charges, which have been denounced by the U.S. and the Journal as baseless and politically-motivated. His appeal against his pre-trial detention was denied. He is now appealing that denial.

Gershkovich was arrested while on a work trip in Yekaterinburg, in Russia’s interior. He is the first American journalist jailed on espionage charges in the country since the Soviet era.

The Journal said in a statement that Gershkovich’s detention was “improper” and “for doing his job as a journalist.”

“The baseless accusations against him are categorically false, and we continue to push for his immediate release,” the statement reads. “Journalism is not a crime.”

Russian prosecutors allege Gershkovich, “acting on the instructions of the American side, collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex.”

President Biden previously stated he is “serious” about freeing Gershkovich via a prisoner swap. Russian officials have said that a prisoner swap will not be considered until his trail is over, a process which could take up to a year.

Gershkovich’s legal counsel appealed to the United Nations for assistance last week, calling on the body to act on the journalist’s behalf.

“Russia is not imprisoning Gershkovich because it legitimately believes its absurd claim that he is an American spy,” attorneys wrote. “Instead, Russian President Vladimir Putin is using Gershkovich as a pawn, holding him hostage in order to gain leverage over – and extract a ransom from – the United States, just as he has done with other American citizens whom he has wrongfully detained.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Back to top button