Russian court extends Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich’s detention by 3 months

A Russian court on Tuesday extended the detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich by three months, according to a Russian state news agency.

Gershkovich was arrested in March in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on espionage charges, which both the Journal and the State Department have denied.

The State Department designated Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained” by Russia in April. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to call for Gershkovich’s release, in a rare communication between high-level U.S. and Russian officials during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian authorities have kept U.S officials from accessing Gershkovich and providing legal representation, a practice recognized in international law as consular access.

“We once again call on Russia to comply with their obligation to provide consular access to him,” Matthew Miller, the State Department spokesperson, said on Tuesday. Russia on Friday rejected the second U.S. request for accessing Gershkovich, Miller added.

The court decision that will now keep Gershkovich detained until Aug. 30 wasn’t announced in advance, and the entire case has been wrapped in secrecy.

Russian authorities haven’t detailed what — if any — evidence they have gathered to support the espionage charges. Various legal proceedings have been closed to the media, and no details immediately emerged about whether Gershkovich attended Tuesday’s hearing or what was said. The Russian state news agency Tass said the session was closed because the reporter was accused of possession of “secret materials.”

The State Department has issued a “Do Not Travel” advisory — the fourth and highest level — for the entire Russian Federation, citing its invasion of Ukraine and the severe limitations that American diplomats face operating in the country.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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