Russia Extends Arrest Of US Journalist Evan Gershkovich After A Year In Jail

Gershkovich, a 32-year-old US citizen, was arrested in late March 2023 while on a reporting assignment and has spent close to a year behind bars. His detention has been extended until June 30, reported Associated Press.

Both Gershkovich and his employer have denied the allegations, and the US government has declared his detention as wrongful.

His arrest, which took place in Yekaterinburg, has caused alarm among journalists in Russia. Authorities have not provided detailed evidence to support the espionage charges, reported AP.

Gershkovich is currently being held at Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, known for its severe conditions.

US ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy attended the court hearing and reiterated that “the accusations against Evan are categorically untrue,” as per the AP report.

“They are not a different interpretation of circumstances. They are fiction,” Tracy told reporters outside of the courthouse. “No justification for Evan’s continued detention, and no explanation as to why Evan doing his job as a journalist constituted a crime. Evan’s case is not about evidence, due process or rule of law. It is about using American citizens as pawns to achieve political ends.”

Gershkovich is the first American reporter to be arrested on espionage charges in Russia since September 1986, when Nicholas Daniloff, a Moscow correspondent for US News and World Report, was arrested by the KGB. Daniloff was released without charge 20 days later in a swap for an employee of the Soviet Union’s UN mission who was arrested by the FBI, also on spying charges, the AP report added.

Experts have highlighted that Moscow could be using detained Americans as leverage amid escalating tensions between the United States and Russia, particularly concerning the Kremlin’s military intervention in Ukraine. In recent years, at least two American citizens, including WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was arrested in Russia, have been exchanged for Russians imprisoned in the US.

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