September 30, 2023

The Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, the US citizen, appears at the Moscow court to appeal against the decision to keep him in a former KGB prison until at least 29 May, in Moscow, Russia on June 22, 2023.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador Lynne Tracy visited Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich in a Moscow prison on Friday, the embassy said, as he prepares for a new appeal next week against his pre-trial detention on spying charges that he denies.

“He remains strong and is keeping up with the news – including his parents’ appearance at the UN this week,” the embassy posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Gershkovich was arrested on March 29 in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg on charges of espionage that carry up to 20 years in prison. He, his newspaper and the U.S. government all strongly deny the accusation.

His father Mikhail said at the United Nations on Wednesday, ahead of its annual general assembly: “We urge all world leaders to stand with Evan and what he represents: the basic right to a free press and freedom of expression.”

Gershkovich is the first U.S. reporter to be accused of spying in Russia since the Cold War. Washington has accused Moscow of using him for “hostage diplomacy”, at a time when relations between the two countries are at their worst point for more than 60 years because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

No date has been set for Gershkovich’s trial. His latest appeal against his detention is due to be heard next Tuesday, but previous ones have been rejected.

Tracy had visited him three times before. This week she also visited Paul Whelan, an American convicted of espionage in 2020 and serving 16 years in a Russian penal colony on spying charges that he too denies.

The United States has designated both men as “wrongfully detained”, meaning it considers the charges against them to be bogus and politically motivated.

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