Russia rejects US journalist's appeal against detention on spying charges

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A Russian judge has denied Evan Gershkovich’s appeal of his pre-trial detention, state media reported today.

The Wall Street Journal correspondent, jailed in Moscow on espionage charges, will stay in custody until the end of May.

If he is convicted, Gershkovich faced up to two decades behind bars.

His legal team has requested that the court place Gershkovich under house arrest and order bail of £490,000.

Appearing today in a Moscow courtroom was the first time Gershkovich had been seen in public since his arrest last month.

Known for his on-the-ground reporting, Gershkovic, 31, travelled to the city of Yekaterinburg, near the Ural Mountains, to report on the Russian military last month.

On March 29, the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s top security agency, claimed that Gershkovich had been caught collecting information on ‘the activities of one of the enterprises of the military defence complex’.

The agency, the successor to the Soviet’s KGB, claimed that the correspondent of the American paper’s Moscow bureau is ‘suspected of spying in the interests of the American government’.

The son of Soviet émigrés, Gershkovich had reportedly been visiting Nizhny Tagil, the site of Russian battle tank maker Uralvagonzavod.

Other than being a journalist, the Kremlin has offered next to no evidence of this.

The White House and the Wall Street Journal have denied the spying allegations and called for his immediate release.

Gershkovich’s arrest has raised fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin is launching yet another crackdown on media independent from the Kremlin.

After Putin launched his war against Ukraine, his government steamrolled a law that made press coverage critical of the invasion a punishable offence of up to 15 years in prison.

While the law has mainly been used to target Russian-language publications, some fear that Western journalists could now be next.

Though his future seems uncertain, Gershkovich appeared to be in good spirits.

Entering the courtroom and going inside a glass cage, Gershkovich smiled, winked and nodded at fellow reporters he recognised in the courtroom.

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