Gershkovich appeared in court Thursday for a hearing in his appeal against a ruling to extend his detention until August 30.
He was first arrested in March on espionage charges – the first time an American journalist had been arrested on charges of spying in Russia since the Cold War.
The US is “extremely disappointed” by a Russian court’s decision to reject Evan Gershkovich’s appeal against his pre-trial detention, ambassador Lynne Tracy told reporters outside Moscow City Court on Thursday.
“This was a procedural hearing, appealing the conditions of his continued detention and we were extremely disappointed by the denial of his appeal,” Tracy said.
Tracy said she “could not speak with Evan directly at the courthouse today,” and blasted Russia’s denial of US diplomats’ requests for consular access to him.
“Failing to comply with its obligations under the consular convention enforced between our two countries, Russia has denied the US embassy’s requests for formal consular access on three occasions since I last visited Evan in April,” she continued, adding, “Nonetheless, today, in the courtroom, Evan continued to show remarkable strength and resiliency in these very difficult circumstances.”
Gershkovich, 31, was arrested in March on espionage charges, which he and the Wall Street Journal vehemently deny.
On May 23, his detention was extended until at least August 30 while he awaits trial.
Tracy added: “Despite Russian officials’ public assertions about Evan’s activities, let me reiterate the US government’s firm position. The charges against him are baseless. He is an innocent journalist who was carrying out journalistic activities and has been wrongly detained.”
“Such hostage diplomacy is unacceptable and we call on the Russian Federation to release him as well as Paul Whelan, another US citizen who has been wrongfully detained. And we call for that release to occur immediately,” she said.
Whelan, a former US marine, was detained at a Moscow hotel in December 2018 by Russian authorities who alleged he was involved in an intelligence operation. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison on an espionage charge he vehemently denies.