Ivan Gershkovich: US journalist arrested in Russia appears in court

  • By Steve Rosenberg & Chloe Kim
  • BBC News, Moscow and London

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See: Ivan Gershkovich Appears at Russian Court

A Russian court has rejected an appeal against US journalist Ivan Gershkovich’s pre-trial detention.

He appeared in court in Moscow on Tuesday – the first time he had been seen in public for weeks.

While working for the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) newspaper, he was arrested in Yekaterinburg and charged with espionage.

Mr Gershkovich was wearing jeans and a blue checked shirt, with his arms folded inside a bulletproof glass case.

He stood calmly and smiled quickly, but did not say anything to the reporters present.

This is the first time Mr Gershkovich has been seen since his imprisonment.

Along with his lawyer, US Ambassador to Moscow Lynn Tracy was also in the courtroom.

Journalists are allowed into the courtroom at the beginning of the trial.

Speaking outside court after the hearing, Ms Tracey said Mr Gershkovich was granted access for the first time on Monday and said he was “in good health and strong despite the circumstances”.

“The charges against Ivan are baseless and we call on the Russian Federation to release him immediately,” he said.

“He has a fighting spirit,” said Maria Korchakina, one of his lawyers. “He works and he knows people support him.”

More than 40 countries, led by the United States, issued a joint statement at the United Nations on Monday. It condemned Moscow for intimidating the media by calling for Mr Gershkovich’s release.

Mr Gershkovich, 31, was arrested on March 29 and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of espionage.

Russia says he was trying to get classified security information to the US government. Mr Gershkovich denies any wrongdoing.

His arrest is the first time since the Soviet era that Moscow has accused an American journalist of espionage.

Reporters Without Borders told Mr Gershkovich about the Russian mercenary Wagner in Yekaterinburg, about 1,600 km (1,000 miles) east of Moscow.

US authorities said his driver dropped him off at a restaurant and two hours later, his phone was switched off.

WSJ’s attorneys were able to see him and the company said it was “doing everything we can to support Evan and his family.”

US leaders – including President Joe Biden and both Republican and Democratic senators – have condemned his arrest.

His case is now being handled by the US Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs.

BBC Russia editor Steve Rosenberg describes him as an excellent reporter and a very principled journalist.

According to a report by the James Foley Legacy Foundation, at least 65 Americans will be unjustly detained abroad in 2022.

The daughter of human rights activist Andrei Sakharov, the first Soviet citizen to win the Nobel Peace Prize, described the treatment of journalists as “archaic, unjustifiable and appalling”.

Tatiana Yankelevich, a US-based scholar, said in an article about her friend Mr Kara-Murza that he was unlikely to survive his 25-year prison sentence and that “there are many who are unrecognized but always brave”. People resisting official lies and propagandaā€¯.

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