Last Updated: May 24, 2023, 01:04 IST
Evan Gershkovich is being held at Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, which is famous for keeping detainees in near-total solitude. (Image: Reuters File)
Gershkovich’s pre-trial detention was due to expire on May 29 and the hearing in Moscow to extend the term was held behind closed doors
Russia on Tuesday extended by three months the detention of Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal journalist who was arrested in March for alleged spying, a charge he denies.
Gershkovich’s pre-trial detention was due to expire on May 29 and the hearing in Moscow to extend the term was held behind closed doors.
“The court granted the investigator’s request to extend the… detention until August 30,” state-run agency RIA Novosti reported, citing the court press service.
Moscow says the sensitivity of the espionage charges means the trial must be held in private and court documents are not being made public.
Gershkovich, who previously worked for AFP, is the first foreign journalist arrested in Russia on spying charges since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
He has denied the accusations, and so have The Wall Street Journal and US officials.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters that the United States wanted the “immediate release” both of Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, a detained former marine.
Miller said the United States did not assist Gershkovich’ parents, who attended the hearing. The United States has warned its citizens of the risks of visiting Russia.
“I will just say personally, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to see your child detained overseas — especially to be detained wrongfully — and so I’m certainly not going to criticise any parents for wanting to see their child,” Miller said.
Gershkovich is being held at Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, which is famous for keeping detainees in near-total solitude.
US Ambassador Lynne Tracy visited Gershkovich mid-April and said the reporter was “in good health.”
Russian authorities have since denied two consular visits to Gershkovich as part of a visa disagreement with the United States involving Russian journalists.
“We once again call on Russia to comply with their obligation to provide consular access to him,” Miller said.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – AFP)