Nafeza : US reporter Evan Gershkovich to stand trial in Russia after more than a year in prison

Nafeza : US reporter Evan Gershkovich to stand trial in Russia after more than a year in prison
Nafeza : US reporter Evan Gershkovich to stand trial in Russia after more than a year in prison

Thursday 13 June 2024 10:46 PM

newsonline - An American journalist who has been held in Russia for more than a year will stand trial on espionage charges, authorities have said.

The Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is accused of "gathering secret information" for the CIA about Uralvagonzavod, a facility that produces and repairs military equipment, Russia's Prosecutor General's office said.

This is the first time authorities have revealed the details of their accusations against the journalist - but they have not provided any evidence to back them up.

An indictment has been finalised and Mr Gershkovich's case was filed to the Sverdlovsky Regional Court, according to Russia authorities.

The trial will take place in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg, where Mr Gershkovich was first detained. A start date is yet to be announced.

Mr Gershkovich faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Image: Evan Gershkovich makes a heart-shaped gesture as he appears in court in April. Pic Reuters

US government responds

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US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller has said there is "absolutely zero credibility to those charges" and vowed the US government will continue working to bring Mr Gershkovich home.

"Evan has done nothing wrong. He should never have been arrested in the first place. Journalism is not a crime," he said.

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"The charges against him are false. And the Russian government knows that they're false. He should be released immediately."

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The Biden administration has been trying to negotiate Mr Gershkovich's release but Russia's foreign ministry has said it will consider a prisoner swap only after a verdict in the trial.

Mr Gershkovich was detained and accused of spying while on a reporting trip to Yekaterinburg, which is roughly 1,400km east of Moscow, in March 2023.

Journalists hold 'Free Evan' signs in Freedom Plaza in Washington. Pic: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images
Image: Evan Gershkovich's detention has caused outcry among journalists and in the US. Pic: AP

The reporter, The Wall Street Journal and the US government have repeatedly denied Russia's accusations, while Washington has designated him as wrongfully detained.

Since his arrest, Mr Gershkovich has been held at Moscow's Lefortovo Prison - a notorious jail used during Joseph Stalin's purges, when executions were carried out in the basement.

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