Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich lost his appeal against the extension of pre-trial detention in Moscow on Thursday on spying charges, which he denies.
Gershkovich’s detention, at the notorious Lefortovo prison in Moscow, was extended last month to August 30. He faces up to 20 years in jail on espionage charges, which he and his employer vehemently contest.
Gershkovich was in court for the decision, in a glass cage, wearing a dark t-shirt and jeans.
The US ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, was also at the hearing at Moscow City Court, as were his parents, Ella Milman and Mikhail Gershkovich.
Tracy told reporters outside the court that the US was “extremely disappointed” by the decision to reject Gershkovich’s appeal.
“This was a procedural hearing, appealing the conditions of his continued detention and we were extremely disappointed by the denial of his appeal,” Tracy said, adding that she “could not speak with Evan directly at the courthouse today,” and blasted Russia’s denial of US diplomats’ requests for consular access to him.
“Failing to comply with its obligations under the consular convention enforced between our two countries, Russia has denied the US embassy’s requests for formal consular access on three occasions since I last visited Evan in April,” she said.
“Nonetheless, today, in the courtroom, Evan continued to show remarkable strength and resiliency in these very difficult circumstances.”
Earlier on Thursday, Russian state news agency TASS reported that the Russian Foreign Ministry was considering a request from the United States for consular access to Gershkovich.
The Wall Street Journal called Gershkovich’s continued detention “an outrage” in a statement released Thursday.
“Our colleague Evan Gershkovich appeared in Moscow City Court today for an appeal against his ongoing pretrial detention. Although the outcome was expected, it is no less an outrage that his detention continues to be upheld.”
“Evan has been wrongfully detained for more than 12 weeks for nothing more than doing his job as a journalist,” the statement continued. “We continue to demand his immediate release.”
Russia’s main security service, the FSB, has claimed that Gershkovich, a correspondent based in Moscow, had been trying to obtain state secrets.
His arrest in March was the first detention of an American reporter in Russia on allegations of spying since the Cold War, rattling White House officials and further straining ties between Moscow and Washington.
On May 23, his detention was extended until at least August 30 while he awaits trial.
The US State Department has officially designated Gershkovich as wrongfully detained in Russia. US President Joe Biden has also been blunt about Gershkovich’s arrest, urging Russia to “let him go.”