APTOPIX Russia US Journalist

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage Oct. 10 in a courtroom in Moscow. Alexander Zemlianichenko/Associated Press

RIGA, Latvia — A Moscow court on Tuesday extended the detention of the Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich until at least Jan. 30, prolonging his imprisonment since March on charges of spying, which he, his employer and the State Department forcefully deny.

It is the third time Gershkovich’s detention has been extended since Federal Security Service (FSB) agents seized him from a restaurant in Yekaterinburg, a city in the Urals where he was on a reporting trip. Gershkovich then was flown to Moscow and has been in Lefortovo high security prison since.

Gershkovich, 32, held Russian Foreign Ministry accreditation to work as a reporter in Russia, but Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova swiftly condemned the reporter just hours after his arrest, claiming without evidence that his activities were “not related to journalism.”

Since his arrest the Russian authorities have not presented any further evidence to substantiate their allegations.

U.S. diplomats in Moscow, who attended Tuesday’s court hearing, expressed deep concern over the decision to extend Gershkovich’s detention and called for his immediate release.

“Today, U.S. Embassy representatives attended the hearing of wrongfully detained WSJ journalist Evan Gershkovich at the Lefortovo Court. We are deeply concerned by the court’s decision to extend his detention for an additional two months,” the embassy said in a statement.


“Evan has already been in pretrial detention without legal grounds for almost eight months. We reiterate our call for Evan’s immediate release.”

In August, Gershkovich’s detention was extended until Nov. 30 while he awaits trial. Russian Foreign Ministry officials have said repeatedly that there would be no negotiations on a prisoner exchange until after a verdict in the case.

Russia’s FSB, the main successor to the Soviet KGB, has accused the journalist of trying to obtain secret information about a Russian military factory.

Gershkovich is a graduate of Bowdoin College.

His arrest was the first time an American journalist had been arrested for spying since 1986, during the Cold War, when reporter Nicholas Daniloff was arrested for spying but was released as part of a prisoner exchange about three weeks later without facing trial.

A statement Tuesday from the Wall Street Journal again rejected the accusations against Gershkovich and called for his immediate release.


“Evan has now been unjustly imprisoned for nearly 250 days, and every day is a day too long. The accusations against him are categorically false and his continued imprisonment is a brazen and outrageous attack on a free press, which is critical for a free society,” the statement said.

Last month, Russian authorities detained another American journalist, Alsu Kurmasheva, who is a dual U.S.-Russian citizen, accusing her of failing to register as a “foreign agent.” Kurmasheva, an editor based in Prague with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, had been visiting her family in Russia when she was arrested.

The U.S. State Department says Gershkovich and another American, former marine and security consultant Paul Whelan, are wrongfully detained. Whelan was arrested on spying charges in 2018, was convicted in 2020 and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Whelan and the State Department have both denied the charges against him.

Gershkovich has appealed unsuccessfully to be granted bail or to be transferred to house arrest.

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