Russian court declines to hear detained U.S. journalist’s appeal

September 19, 2023

Detained U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich appealed his pre-trial detention on Tuesday at Moscow City Court, but was turned away without a ruling. 

The same court on August 24 extended Gershkovich’s detention by three months, until November 30.

The 31-year-old American journalist was arrested in March. Russia’s FSB security services claimed that 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 American has been charged with espionage, which carries a potential prison sentence in Russia of up to 20 years. 

Both Gershkovich and the Wall Street Journal deny the allegations against him.

Few details were revealed Tuesday as to why the Moscow court, in a closed-door hearing, declined to hear Gershkovich’s appeal. The case is expected to be returned to a lower court, where his appeal will need to be resubmitted.

In a statement Tuesday the court said that it had considered the defense attorney’s complaint “and decided to remove the material regarding E. Gershkovich from appeal consideration, and send the material to the Lefortovo District Court of Moscow to eliminate the circumstances impeding the consideration of the criminal case in the appellate court.”

The U.S. State Department has designated Gershkovich “wrongfully detained” which shifts supervision of 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.

Outside the courtroom Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation Lynne Tracy said, “The U.S. position remains unshakable: The accusations against Evan are unfounded.”

She added that the Russian government had imprisoned Gershkovich for “simply doing his job. Journalism is not a crime.”

PHOTO: LinkedIn

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