Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, was arrested in Russia on espionage charges. A court in Moscow announced that his lawyers appealed his arrest.
Gershkovich was detained in Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city, marking the first detainment of a U.S. correspondent since the Cold War. The Wall Street Journal said it “vehemently denies” the charges and demanded his release.
Although pending investigation, Moscow’s Lefortovsky District court ruled that Gershkovich would be imprisoned for two months.
The court reported that Gershkovich’s defense team filed an appeal against their client’s arrest. An appeal date has not been released.
The prison’s monitor, Alexei Melnikov, wrote on the Telegram messaging app that Gershkovich was in a quarantine cell where he underwent medical procedures, was in a double cell without a cellmate, read a book from the prison library, and had access to a television, radio, and refrigerator.
Our colleague @WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich, charged with espionage in Russia, was visited in pre-trial detention by some (mildly pro-Kremlin) activists. Here’s what one wrote – hopefully it’s accurate. This week we are awaiting an update on court hearing (appeal against arrest) pic.twitter.com/2jtHETqiye
— Will Vernon (@BBCWillVernon) April 4, 2023
“At the time of the visit, he was cheerful. During the conversation there were a lot of jokes,” Melnikov wrote.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested Gershkovich, accusing him of obtaining classified information about a Russian arms factory.
U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the Biden administration was pressuring Russia over Gershkovich’s prison release.
“It’s got attention all the way up to the Oval Office in terms of how we can get him home,” Kirby told reporters in Washington, D.C.
President Joe Biden urged Russia to release Gershkovich. “Let him go,” Biden told reporters at the White House when asked about the situation.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken urged Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov to release Gershkovich and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, imprisoned in Russia since 2020.