WSJ journalist Evan Gershkovich’s espionage trial begins in Russia | EUROtoday

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The closed-door trial of American journalist Evan Gershkovich started within the Russian metropolis of Yekaterinburg on Wednesday, 15 months after he was arrested and charged with espionage whereas on a reporting journey.

The case marks the primary time for the reason that Cold War that an American journalist has been placed on trial for espionage in Russia. Gershkovich appeared calm in courtroom Wednesday, smiling and nodding at colleagues who had traveled to Yekaterinburg — virtually 900 miles to the east of Moscow — to report on the opening moments of the trial. Gershkovich’s head had been shaved, as is typical for prisoners within the Russian penitentiary system.

Russian prosecutors introduced earlier this month that that they had finalized an indictment and had “established and documented” that Gershkovich had “collected secret information” in regards to the Uralvagonzavod army manufacturing facility within the Sverdlovsk area in Russia whereas “on assignment from the CIA.”

While Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has mentioned that Gershkovich was caught “red-handed,” no proof has ever been made public.

Gershkovich, the White House and his employer, the Wall Street Journal, have deemed the fees baseless. If convicted, he faces as much as 20 years in jail.

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Gershkovich, 32, a U.S. citizen who had labored as an accredited journalist in Russia for six years, has been in pretrial detention on the Lefortovo jail in Moscow since his arrest in March 2023.

His case was transferred this month to a courtroom in Yekaterinburg, the place Gershkovich was initially arrested, and he was moved to a detention middle within the metropolis. As is typical for espionage circumstances in Russia, the trial will stay closed to the general public and is anticipated to final a number of months.

Last 12 months, the State Department declared Gershkovich and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who was arrested in 2018 on related fees, to be wrongfully detained, a designation that commits the federal authorities to work for his or her launch. The Kremlin has signaled that it’s open to the potential for buying and selling Gershkovich for high-value Russian nationals jailed overseas as soon as a verdict is delivered.

President Vladimir Putin instructed American right-wing speak present host Tucker Carlson in February throughout his first interview with a Western media determine for the reason that 2022 invasion of Ukraine that “an agreement can be reached” with the United States to free Gershkovich. During the interview, Putin indicated that he wished to safe the discharge of Vadim Krasikov, an alleged Russian intelligence agent convicted of the homicide of a Chechen dissident in Berlin in 2019.

When once more pressed on the topic throughout an interview with worldwide reporters in April, Putin mentioned that U.S. and Russian authorities continued to “maintain contacts on this issue.”

“I know that the U.S. administration is taking energetic steps to secure his release. It’s true. Such issues are not decided by mass media, they prefer a discreet, calm and professional approach and dialogue between security services,” he mentioned. “And they certainly should be decided on the basis of reciprocity.”

U.S. Embassy officers mentioned that they got temporary entry to Gershkovich forward of the proceedings and have been current on the courtroom.

“Russian authorities have failed to provide any evidence supporting the charges against him, failed to justify his continued detention, and failed to explain why Evan’s work as a journalist constitutes a crime,” the embassy assertion mentioned after the listening to.

“His case is not about evidence, procedural norms, or the rule of law. It is about the Kremlin using American citizens to achieve its political objectives. Russia should stop using individuals like Evan Gershkovich or Paul Whelan as bargaining chips.”

In her personal assertion forward of Wednesday’s trial, Wall Street Journal editor in chief Emma Tucker described the case as “a travesty of justice that already has gone on for far too long.”

“When his case comes before a judge this week, it will not be a trial as we understand it, with a presumption of innocence and a search for the truth,” she wrote. “It will be held in secret. No evidence has been unveiled. And we already know the conclusion: This bogus accusation of espionage will inevitably lead to a bogus conviction for an innocent man who would then face up to 20 years in prison for simply doing his job. And an excellent job he was doing, at that.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/06/26/journalist-evan-gershkovich-russia-trial/