Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich speaks with his lawyers before a court hearing in Moscow on April 23, 2024. (Photo: Reuters/Tatyana Makeyeva)
Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich speaks with his lawyers before a court hearing in Moscow on April 23, 2024. His trial is set to begin June 26. (Photo: Reuters/Tatyana Makeyeva)

US journalist Evan Gershkovich to stand trial June 26

New York, June 17, 2024—As a Russian court on Monday set the beginning of the trial of U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich for June 26, the Committee to Protect Journalists renewed its call to immediately release him and drop all charges against him.

“The start of Gershkovich’s trial comes after he has already spent more than 14 months behind bars for no other reason than his work as a journalist,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator. “Russian authorities must immediately release Gershkovich, drop all charges against him, and stop prosecuting members of the press for their work.”

The investigation department of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) accused Gershkovich, a reporter with The Wall Street Journal, of acting on assignment for the CIA and collecting “secret information” on a Russian tank factory in the Sverdlovsk region, where he was arrested on espionage charges on March 29, 2023, according to a press release by the Sverdlovsk Regional Court, where Gershkovich’s trial will start behind closed doors on June 26.

It is not known how long Gershkovich’s trial will last, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

Gershkovich, whose detention has been extended five times since his arrest, faces up to 20 years in prison, according to the Russian criminal code. He is the first American journalist to face such accusations by Russia since the end of the Cold War. Gershkovich, The Wall Street Journal, and the U.S. government have all denied the espionage allegations.

On June 13, the Russian prosecutor general’s office announced that Gershkovich’s indictment had been finalized and that the case against him was sent to court.

“Evan Gershkovich is facing a false and baseless charge. Russia’s latest move toward a sham trial is, while expected, deeply disappointing and still no less outrageous,” said Almar Latour, CEO of Dow Jones and publisher of The Wall Street Journal, and Emma Tucker, editor in chief of the publication, in a statement on June 13.

On April 11, 2023, the U.S. State Department designated Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained,” which unlocked a broad government effort to free him.

Russia was the world’s fourth-worst jailer of journalists, with at least 22 behind bars, including Gershkovich and Alsu Kurmasheva, a U.S.-Russian journalist, when CPJ conducted its most recent annual prison census on December 1, 2023.

CPJ emailed the Sverdlovsk Regional Court and the Russian prosecutor general’s office but did not immediately receive any response.