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Why was Evan Gershkovich arrested? WSJ reporter to be held in Moscow prison for 3 more months before trial

The prosecution had requested for Evan Gershkovich's arrest to be extended beyond August 30
UPDATED AUG 24, 2023
Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich's arrest warrant has been extended until November 30 (Evan Gershkovich/LinkedIn)
Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich's arrest warrant has been extended until November 30 (Evan Gershkovich/LinkedIn)

MOSCOW, RUSSIA: WSJ reporter Evan Gershokovich, who was imprisoned in Russia on treason accusations that carry a maximum sentence of 20 years, will remain in custody until November 30.

American citizen Gershkovich, 31, was detained in the city of Yekaterinburg in late March while on a reporting trip to Russia.

Gershkovich, wearing a shirt, sneakers, and jeans, was carried handcuffed out of the white prison van as he arrived for the hearing to extend his imprisonment.

As per Daily Mail, the prosecution had requested for his arrest to be extended beyond August 30. Gershkovich has filed an appeal contesting this.

Evan Gershkovich accused of espionage

Gershkovich is the first American journalist to be accused of espionage in Russia after Nicholas Daniloff, a Moscow reporter for US News and World Report, was detained by the KGB in September 1986.

The Russian Federal Security Service claimed that 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."

Gershkovich and the WSJ have refuted the allegations. The US government claims that he was wrongfully detained and his situation has been kept under wraps.

The extent of the evidence that the Russian government has gathered to substantiate the espionage allegations remains unknown.

Evan Gershkovich was being held at notorious Moscow prison

Earlier in August, US Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy paid Gershkovich her third visit and noted that despite difficult circumstances, he seemed to be in good health. He is being imprisoned in the notoriously harsh Lefortovo jail in Moscow.

The Wall Street Journal released the following statement on Thursday, August 24: "Today, our colleague and distinguished journalist Evan Gershkovich appeared for a pre-trial hearing where his improper detention was extended yet again."

The statement continued: "We are deeply disappointed he continues to be arbitrarily and wrongfully detained for doing his job as a journalist. The baseless accusations against him are categorically false, and we continue to push for his immediate release. Journalism is not a crime."

Brittney Griner's ordeal in Russia

At least two American citizens, including WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was recently detained in Russia, were exchanged for Russians who were detained in the US.

The WNBA player, now 32, was arrested on February 17, 2022, on suspicion of carrying cannabis oil in her luggage after landing in Moscow from New York City. After a several-week trial, she was given a nine-year prison term on August 4.

In July 2022, it was revealed that the Biden administration had proposed a prisoner swap with Russia to secure the release of Griner and American detainee Paul Whelan.

According to sources who spoke to CNN, they had also proposed returning Viktor Bout, a Russian who is currently serving a 25-year sentence in the US for arms trafficking.

SAITAMA, JAPAN - AUGUST 08: Brittney Griner #15 of Team United States poses for photographs with her
Brittney Griner was detained in Russia on suspicion of carrying cannabis oil in her luggage (Getty Images)

In response to a question regarding his country's interest in such exchanges, the Russian ambassador to the US stated last week that the conduit for prisoner trades between the two nations "has already proved its effectiveness."