US reporter accused of spying loses detention appeal in Russia
Moscow, Apr 18 (EFE).- A Moscow court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich against his detention ahead of his trial on alleged espionage charges.
Gershkovich, 31, was formally charged with espionage and ordered to be held in pre-trial detention for two months at a closed hearing on March 30.
The US reporter appeared at the hearing on Tuesday standing inside a bullet-proof glass box.
He briefly smiled during the session which had several journalists and the US ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy in attendance.
Gershkovich was detained while working in Yekaterinburg, 1,647 kilometers east of Moscow on March 29.
Shortly after his arrest, Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said that the US journalist “was caught red-handed”. The Russian Federal Security Service said Gershkovich was suspected of spying in the interests of the American government.
“We reiterate our call for his immediate release,” Tracy wrote on Twitter on Monday after she visited Gershkovich in Moscow’s Lefortovo Prison.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken also called on Russia to free the journalist at a press conference that followed the G7 foreign ministers summit in Japan on Tuesday.
Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the foreign ministry, warned Monday that diplomats meddling in Russian affairs would be expelled after dozens of Western diplomats appeared at the trial at which prominent Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza was sentenced to 25 years in prison for treason on Monday.
The White House and the Wall Street Journal have both denied the accusation against Gershkovich and have called for him to be released immediately.
If convicted, Gershkovich could face up to 20 years in prison.EFE