Enter your email address below and subscribe to our newsletter

US journalist Gershkovich on trial in Russia over spying charges he denies | Russia-Ukraine war News

US journalist Gershkovich on trial in Russia over spying charges he denies | Russia-Ukraine war News

Share your love

Journalist faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted, with prospects of US-Russia prisoner swap deal uncertain.

The closed-door trial in Russia of American journalist Evan Gershkovich on charges of espionage has started 15 months after he was arrested in the city of Yekaterinburg.

The 32-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter appeared in a glass cage in the Yekaterinburg courtroom on Wednesday, with his head shaven clean and wearing a black-and-blue plaid shirt.

“The judge has entered the hall. The process has started,” Irina Toshcheva, press secretary of the Sverdlovsk Regional Court, told reporters.

Gershkovich is accused by prosecutors of gathering secret information about Uralvagonzavod, a plant manufacturing tanks for Russia’s war in Ukraine, on the orders of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Journal said the “secret trial” will “offer him few, if any, of the legal protections he would be accorded in the US and other Western countries”.

The reporter, his employer and the US government vigorously deny the allegations, saying he was just doing his job, with accreditation from Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On Tuesday, the Journal’s editor-in-chief, Emma Tucker, wrote in a letter to readers that Russian judicial proceedings are “unfair to Evan and a continuation of this travesty of justice that already has gone on for far too long”.

Tucker said: “This bogus accusation of espionage will inevitably lead to a bogus conviction for an innocent man.”

If convicted, Gershkovich faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. A verdict could be months away because Russian trials often adjourn for weeks.

Tucker noted that even covering Gershkovich’s trial “presents challenges to us” and other media “over how to report responsibly on the proceedings and the allegations”.

“Let us be very clear, once again: Evan is a staff reporter of The Wall Street Journal. He was on assignment in Russia, where he was an accredited journalist,” she wrote.

‘Hostage diplomacy’

The American-born son of immigrants from the Soviet Union, Gershkovich is the first Western journalist to be arrested on espionage charges in post-Soviet Russia.

His detention came about a year after President Vladimir Putin pushed through laws that chilled journalists, criminalising criticism of the war in Ukraine and statements seen as discrediting the military.

After his arrest on March 29, 2023, Gershkovich was held in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison. His appeals for release have been repeatedly rejected.

The proceedings will take place behind closed doors, meaning that the media is excluded and no friends, family members or US embassy staff are allowed in to support him.

Putin has indicated that Russia is open to the idea of a prisoner exchange involving Gershkovich and others, claiming that contacts with the United States have taken place, but that they must remain secret.

The US has in turn accused Russia of conducting “hostage diplomacy”.

It has designated Gershkovich and another jailed American, security executive Paul Whelan, arrested in Moscow for espionage in 2018, as “wrongfully detained”, thereby committing the government to assertively seek their release.

Source link

Share your love
Articles: 2095

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay informed and not overwhelmed, subscribe now!