“Every new extension of Evan Gershkovich’s detention is a blow to the freedom of the press in Russia and an attack on the work of foreign correspondents in the country,” said Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director. “Russian authorities must immediately release Gershkovich, who has been wrongfully detained for almost five months, drop all charges against him, and stop prosecuting the press for their work.”
On Thursday, August 24, a Moscow court held a closed-door hearing and granted the Russian Federal Security Service’s request to extend Gershkovich’s detention by three months. The hearing was announced Wednesday, according to media reports.
The Wall Street Journal’s Moscow-based reporter was arrested on espionage charges while on a reporting trip in the central city of Yekaterinburg on March 29. The Wall Street Journal has strongly denied the allegations that Gershkovich is a spy for the U.S. government.
He faces up to 20 years in prison, according to the Russian Criminal code, and is the first American journalist to face such accusations by Russia since the end of the Cold War.
“We are deeply disappointed he continues to be arbitrarily and wrongfully detained for doing his job as a journalist,” the Wall Street Journal said in a statement on Thursday.
It marks the second time that the Moscow court has extended Gershkovich’s pretrial detention. On March 30, it ordered him to be held until May 29, and on May 23 it extended his detention until August 30.
On August 14, 2023, Gershkovich met with the U.S. ambassador to Russia, the third such visit since his detention. Russian authorities have denied a number of U.S. requests for consular access, according to media reports. On April 10, the U.S. government designated Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained” by Russia, a status that unlocks a broad U.S. government effort to free him.
Russia held at least 19 journalists in prison on December 1, 2022, when CPJ conducted its most recent prison census.