Russian court rejects US journalist Evan Gershkovich’s detention bid: NPR
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MOSCOW – A Moscow court rejected an appeal against the detention of American journalist Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested on March 29 on charges of treason.
The hearing marked the first time the 31-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter had been seen in public since he was detained by Russian security agents while on a reporting trip in the Ural mountain city of Yekaterinburg.
Journalists were briefly allowed into the courtroom, where Gershkovich could be seen inside a glass cage dressed in a blue plaid shirt and jeans chatting with his lawyers.
US Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy was also present for some of the closed hearing. After the verdict, Tracy repeated demands from the US government for the immediate release of Gershkovich
“I can only say how sad it was to see Evan, an innocent journalist, held in these conditions,” said Tracy, who noted that she was not given consular access to the journalist. American news yesterday after two weeks of trying.
“I can report that he is in good health and is still strong despite his condition,” said Tracy.
Gershkovich’s lawyers said he would appeal the court’s decision – but said the next hearing would not come sooner than the end of May.
For now, Gershkovich remains in a cell in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, where he has been busy reading books such as Leo Tolstoy’s classic War and peacewatching cookery shows, and answering letters from supporters from all over the world.
The US State Department has designated Gershkovich “wrongfully detained” – a designation that gives the government more freedom in negotiating the journalist’s release.
“Journalism is not a crime,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said in a statement last week. “We call on the Russian Federation to immediately release Mr. Gershkovich .”
But Russian officials insist Gershkovich was caught “red-handed” and suggested a prisoner exchange could come once the legal system has run its course.