US Journalist Gershkovich To Face Trial On Espionage Charges In Russia

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US Journalist Gershkovich To Face Trial On Espionage Charges In Russia

The trial of US journalist Evan Gershkovich will be held behind closed doors, according to Russian state media citing the courts service. Russian officials have accused the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporter of gathering “secret information” from a Russian tank factory for the CIA, allegations which he denies.

The trial is set to begin on June 26 in Yekaterinburg, the city in the Urals where Gershkovich was arrested last March. Since then, the 32-year-old has been detained in Moscow’s high-security Lefortovo prison. The WSJ has labeled the trial a “sham,” while US officials argue that the charges lack credibility.

Russian prosecutors claim Gershkovich was caught “red-handed” attempting to obtain military secrets, with the FSB state spy service alleging that he was gathering classified information about the “production and repair of military equipment” from a tank factory. They further accused him of conducting “illegal actions using painstaking conspiratorial methods” under CIA instructions.

Gershkovich faces espionage charges that could result in up to 20 years in prison. He has spent over a year in detention. US President Joe Biden has condemned Russia’s actions as “totally illegal,” and the WSJ has accused Moscow of detaining Americans to use them as bargaining chips for future trades.

Russia holds several other US citizens in its prisons, including journalists and active-duty military members. A Kremlin spokesman confirmed “contacts” with the US regarding a potential prisoner swap but did not provide further details. Dmitry Peskov also refrained from commenting on the closed-door nature of Gershkovich’s trial, describing it as a court decision.

Gershkovich is the first American journalist arrested on espionage charges in Russia since the end of the Cold War. In December, the US State Department made a “substantial” offer to Russia for his release, which was rejected.

Moscow reportedly seeks the release of Vadim Krasikov, who was convicted in Germany in 2021 for killing a former Chechen commander in Berlin, in exchange for Gershkovich. President Vladimir Putin appeared to confirm this during an interview with Tucker Carlson earlier this year.

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