The trial of journalist Gershkovitch in Russia behind closed doors

Gershkovitch in a glass cage during an appeal hearing in a Moscow court in April

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The trial of American reporter Evan Gershkovitch in Russia is taking place behind closed doors. The case is scheduled to begin next Wednesday, June 26. This was reported by Russian state news agencies TASS and RIA, based on information from the Russian court.

Last week, prosecutors announced that the case against Gershkovich would be heard in a court in Yekaterinburg, where the reporter was arrested in March 2023. The Russians accuse him of spying for the CIA. Gershkovitch categorically denies this.

Gershkovitch has always said he only did journalistic work, and no evidence has ever been uncovered to support his espionage accusation. Earlier this year, the US government said the journalist had been “unjustly imprisoned” and was working to secure his release. Gershkovitch’s employer, the Wall Street Journal, maintains that he was only interested in the reports.

According to Washington, Russia is arresting Americans to use them as bargaining chips. For example, in 2022, convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as the Merchant of Death, was traded for basketball player Brittney Griner.

Exchange possible

After the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, his team said that he was a candidate for a prisoner exchange. The Russian opposition leader will be exchanged at the same time as two Americans detained in Russia for Vadim Krasikov, a Russian secret agent convicted of murder in Germany.

The names of the Americans were not mentioned at the time, but it was said that in addition to Gershkovich, they were former American soldier Paul Whelan. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison for espionage in 2020. Whelan and Krasikov remain in detention.

Kremlin spokesman Peskov said today that there are discussions about Gershkovich’s involvement in another possible prisoner exchange, but nothing will be revealed on this topic. It is therefore not known whether this exchange is already underway.

It resumed several times

Gershkovitch, the son of Soviet Jewish immigrants who grew up in New Jersey, is fluent in Russian and moved to Moscow in late 2017 to join the English-language newspaper The Moscow Times. He then worked at the French news agency AFP before joining the Wall Street Journal in 2022.

Gershkovitch has resumed his detention several times, standing in the glass cages used for suspects in Russian courts. All appeals were rejected.

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