WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich seen for first time since being arrested in Russia on charges of espionage, judge upholds detention

A judge in Moscow upheld a decision to keep American journalist Evan Gershkovich detained on Tuesday, who was arrested in Russia for allegedly spying in late March. The Kremlin has been cracking down on dissents as the war in Ukraine continues to escalate.

The Wall Street Journal report's legal team suggested that he be freed on bail of 50 million roubles ($614,000) or be placed under house arrest, but both options were quickly rejected by the judge. In speaking after the hearing, Maria Korchagina, one of Gershkovich’s lawyers, said that he has maintained a “fighting spirit,” noting that “he’s working out and he knows that people are supporting him.”

Gershkovich and the US government have denied the allegations that he was spying on sensitive Russian material, but he could still be facing up to 20 years in prison if he is found guilty. Gershkovich is the first US journalist to be detained in Russia for spying since the Cold War, according to the Daily Mail.

Before the hearing started, Gershkovich turned around to find that a Russian reporter had told him to “Stay strong!” and went on to tell him that everyone said “Hi,” per the report. Lynne Tracy, the US Ambassador, was also present at the hearing.

Tracy said the following leading up to the hearing: “The accusations against Gershkovich are unfounded and we call on the Russian authorities to release the journalist immediately.”

Gershkovich has been held in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, which has been a symbol of repression and oppression since the czarist era in the country. However, the journalist, standing within a glass case during the hearing, smiled at press photographers and appeared to be in good spirits.

The Wall Street Journal said: “Evan is a member of the free press who right up until he was arrested was engaged in news-gathering. Any suggestions otherwise are false.”

It is unclear how much communication Gershkovich will have with the outside world ahead of his trial.

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