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Russian court sets trial date for U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich

 JournalismPakistan.com |  Published June 18, 2024

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Russian court sets trial date for U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich

NEW YORK—As a Russian court sets the trial date for U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich on June 26, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) renewed its call for his immediate release and the dismissal of 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."

Gershkovich, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, was arrested on March 29, 2023, on espionage charges. Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) accused him of acting on assignment for the CIA and collecting "secret information" on a Russian tank factory in the Sverdlovsk region. His trial, set to begin behind closed doors on June 26, will be held at the Sverdlovsk Regional Court.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that it remains unclear how long Gershkovich's trial will last. Since his arrest, his detention has been extended five times, and he now faces up to 20 years in prison under Russian law. Gershkovich is the first American journalist to face such accusations in Russia since the end of the Cold War. Both Gershkovich, The Wall Street Journal, and the U.S. government have denied the espionage allegations.

On June 13, the Russian prosecutor general's office announced that Gershkovich's indictment had been finalized, and the case 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 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 joint statement.

On April 11, 2023, the U.S. State Department designated Gershkovich as "wrongfully detained," triggering a broad government effort to secure his release.

According to CPJ's most recent annual prison census on December 1, 2023, Russia was the world's fourth-worst jailer of journalists, with at least 22 detained, including Gershkovich and Alsu Kurmasheva, a U.S.-Russian journalist.

CPJ reached out to the Sverdlovsk Regional Court and the Russian prosecutor general's office for comment but did not receive a response.—A CPJ Statement/Photo: Reuters

 

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