US journalist appeals incarceration in Russian court 2023

Jailed On Tuesday, American journalist Evan Gershkovich appealed his imprisonment on spying allegations, part of a Kremlin crackdown on dissent during the Ukraine war. He and the U.S. government strongly refute the charges.

The Wall Street Journal writer, the first American imprisoned in Russia for espionage since the Cold War, was surrounded by dozens of journalists. Gershkovich was peaceful in a glass cage. Lynne Tracy was present.

In March, Russia’s Federal Security Service arrested the 31-year-old in Yekaterinburg for trying to steal armaments and industrial secrets.

Jailed American journalist Evan Gershkovich appealed his espionage imprisonment in Moscow.

Gershkovich, his company, and the U.S. government deny espionage and want him released. The State Department prioritizes his case after the U.S. government ruled him “wrongfully detained” last week.

On Tuesday, the Moscow City Court will hear his detention defense appeal.

If convicted, Gershkovich may serve 20 years. Russian attorneys said espionage investigations took a year to 18 months, during which he had limited interaction with the outside world.

He is in Moscow’s Lefortovo jail, a czarist-era icon of tyranny.

The arrest comes as the Kremlin cracks down on opposition activists, independent media, and civil society organisations amid severe tensions with the West over its invasion of Ukraine.

The broad crackdown is unique since the Soviet period. Journalists and ordinary Russians who oppose the war are criminalized, activists claim.

A Russian court sentenced a parent to two years in jail for war-critical social media statements last month. On Monday, a Russian court convicted opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. of treason for publicly condemning the war and sentenced him to 25 years in jail.

The U.S. wants Moscow to provide Gershkovich consular access. Ambassador Tracy visited Gershkovich in prison for the first time on Monday. “He is in good health and remains strong,” she tweeted, repeating a U.S. demand for his release.

Last Monday, President Joe Biden again denounced Greshkovich’s arrest.

“We declared it illegal,” he stated.

Last week, a prominent Russian official suggested a prisoner swap with the U.S. for Gershkovich following his trial. Thus, no swap is imminent.

After her cocaine possession conviction, Brittney Griner was traded for Russian weapons dealer Viktor Bout in December. She served 10 months of her nine-year sentence.

Paul Whelan, a Michigan corporate security professional, has been imprisoned in Russia since December 2018 on espionage accusations his family and the U.S. government believe false.

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