Moscow Court Rejects Appeal of Gershkovich

'WSJ' reporter detained since March will continue to be imprisoned
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 20, 2024 11:00 AM CST
Gershkovich Will Continue to Cool His Heels in Russian Prison
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting in Moscow on Jan. 31.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool, File)

A Moscow court ruled Tuesday to keep Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich in custody pending his trial on espionage charges that he denies. As the AP reports, the Moscow City Court rejected an appeal against Gershkovich's detention filed by his lawyers, upholding an earlier ruling to keep him behind bars until the end of March. The court's order means that Gershkovich, 32 will spend at least a year behind bars in Russia after his arrest in March 2023 while on a reporting trip in the Ural Mountains. Gershkovich and the Journal have denied the espionage allegations, and the US government has declared him to be wrongfully detained. Russian authorities haven't detailed any evidence to support the charges. Gershkovich is being held at Moscow's Lefortovo prison, notorious for its harsh conditions.

Speaking with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin said Russia is ready to negotiate a deal to exchange Gershkovich and hinted that Moscow wants the release of a Russian imprisoned in Germany. Putin charged that Gershkovich "was caught red-handed when he was secretly getting classified information," while adding that "I believe an agreement can be reached." He pointed to a man imprisoned in a "US-allied country" for "liquidating a bandit" who had allegedly killed Russian soldiers during separatist fighting in Chechnya.

Putin appeared to refer to Vadim Krasikov, a Russian serving a life sentence in Germany after being convicted of the 2019 killing in Berlin of a Georgian citizen of Chechen ethnicity. German judges said Krasikov acted on the orders of Russian authorities, who gave him a false identity, passport, and resources to carry out the killing. German officials have refused to comment on if there had been any effort by Russia to secure a swap of Krasikov and Gershkovich. Earlier this month, a Moscow court remanded a German citizen in custody on drug smuggling charges after his arrest over possession of cannabis gummies. Patrick Schobel, 38, who was detained at Pulkovo Airport in St. Petersburg last month, told authorities he brought the gummies to have a better sleep on long flights.

(More Evan Gershkovich stories.)

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