Russia Extends WSJ Reporter’s Pre-Trial Detention

( – A Russian court has decided to extend the pretrial detention period of a reporter for the Wall Street Journal after he was arrested in Russia on espionage charges.

Granting the request of prosecutors, the Lefortovo District Court ruled on Thursday, August 24th that the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) could keep 31-year-old Evan Gershkovich behind bars awaiting trial until November 30th. Gershkovich was first arrested on March 23rd in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg after Russian authorities accused him of attempting to gain access to state secrets.

His trial was scheduled for May 29th, but exactly one month later on May 23rd, a Russian court extended his pretrial detention to at least August 30th. Now a court has yet again extended Gershkovich’s pretrial detention, which means he could remain in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison for at least eight months. Both the Wall Street Journal and the U.S. government have vehemently denied these allegations, and have called for Gershkovich’s immediate release.

The Wall Street Journal issued another statement in response to Gershkovich’s extended pretrial detention, saying that the result was “deeply disappointing” and that the allegations levied against him are “categorically false.”

The U.S. State Department has also launched an effort to free Gershkovich, officially designating him as “wrongfully detained.” However, the repeated attempts by the State Department have so far been met with diplomatic silence from Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russian government officials. All attempts by Gershkovich’s lawyers to secure his release have also been denied.

Russian law can allow for up to 12 months in pretrial extension in some instances, with Gershkovich already potentially facing eight months of pretrial detention ahead of him.

Lynne Tracy, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, has visited Gershkovich at least three times since his initial imprisonment. Her most recent visit was on August 14th, where she said that Gershkovich remains in good health despite Lefortovo being one of Russia’s most notoriously harsh prisons.

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