A Russian court must decide today, Thursday, on extending the pretrial detention of American journalist Ivan Gershkovich, who is accused of “espionage” charges, which he rejects, an important file for Russian-American relations.
• Also read: Russia: American arrested on charges of espionage
• Also read: Extradition of a suspected Russian spy to the United States
The Moscow City Court confirmed this hearing to AFP, and it will appear on the website for future hearings.
An extension of his detention is almost certain, and the Russian judiciary rarely releases pre-trial detainees.
Mr. Gershkovitch, a journalist with the Wall Street Journal, was arrested by Russian security services while reporting in Yekaterinburg in the Urals on 29 March.
The 31-year-old journalist, who also previously worked for Agence France-Presse in Moscow, is accused of “espionage”, which Washington, his newspaper, and his relatives and family reject.
Russia has never substantiated its accusations or presented any evidence publicly, and the entire procedure has been classified as classified.
No date has been set for his trial.
His arrest comes in the context of serious diplomatic tensions between the United States and Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, where Washington supports Kiev militarily and financially against Moscow.
The imprisonment of a foreign journalist accredited by the Russian authorities is unprecedented since Soviet times.
In recent years, many American citizens have been arrested and sentenced to heavy sentences in Russia, and Washington has accused Moscow of wanting to exchange them for Russians held in the United States.
In December 2022, American basketball player Brittney Griner, convicted in Russia of cannabis smuggling charges, was released against Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer imprisoned in the United States.
Last week, another US citizen, Gene Spector, also accused of “espionage”, was imprisoned. Few details are known at this point about his case.