Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is making his first public appearance in Russia Tuesday after being arrested nearly three weeks ago on charges of espionage.
Gershkovich, who has denied the charges against him, is in Moscow City Court for a hearing in which a judge could uphold pretrial detention, move him to another jail, permit house arrest, or grant him bail, according to The Wall Street Journal.
U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Lynne Tracy and Gershokovich’s lawyers, Tatyana Nozhkina and Maria Korchagina, are in the courtroom, the newspaper says.
The Wall Street Journal and the U.S. government have denied the charges against Gershkovich as well.
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He has been in custody since March 29.
Gershkovich appeared at the hearing Tuesday in a see-through detention box, wearing jeans and a blue-checkered shirt.
Russia’s Federal Security Service has charged Gershkovich with espionage, accusing him of collecting “information constituting a state secret about the activities of an enterprise within Russia’s military-industrial complex,” according to state media outlet Tass.
But the U.S. State Department last week designated Gershkovich as being “wrongfully detained” by Russian authorities. President Biden also has called the arrest “totally illegal.”
“Journalism is not a crime. We condemn the Kremlin’s continued repression of independent voices in Russia, and its ongoing war against the truth,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. “The U.S. government will provide all appropriate support to Mr. Gershkovich and his family. We call for the Russian Federation to immediately release Mr. Gershkovich.”
Yesterday, Tracy visited Gershkovich at the Lefortovo prison where he was being held in what was the first time Russian authorities provided U.S. officials access to him since his arrest, according to The Wall Street Journal.
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“He is in good health and remains strong,” the newspaper quoted Tracy as saying. “We reiterate our call for his immediate release.”
If convicted, Gershkovich reportedly would face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Fox News’ Paul Best contributed to this report.