Russian news agencies reported Tuesday that a court extended the pre-trial detention of American journalist Evan Gershkovich by three months, through at least August 30.
Arrested on March 29, Russia’s intel agency FSB said Gershkovich, who reports for the Wall Street Journal, “was collecting classified information about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military industrial complex.”
Despite the Russian Foreign Ministry and the FSB acknowledging that Gershkovich is an accredited journalist in Russia, the 31-year-old American has been charged with espionage, which carries a potential prison sentence in Russia of up to 20 years.
Russian authorities have not revealed what evidence they have gathered to support the espionage charges—or if they have any evidence at all.
There were also no immediate details about whether Gershkovich or representatives from the U.S. Embassy attended Tuesday’s hearing, which the Russian news agency TASS said was closed because the journalist was accused of possession of “secret materials.”
In April, the State Department designated Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained,” which shifted his case to a specialized State Department section, called the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs. That department is focused on negotiating for the release of captives.
And earlier this month, House Foreign Affairs Committee introduced a resolution that would call on Russia to free Gershkovich immediately. A strong bipartisan vote in Congress could add back-up to the Biden Administration’s efforts to secure the journalist’s release.
Gershkovich is the first U.S. journalist to be detained in Russia on spying charges since the Cold War.