MOSCOW (AP) — The arrest of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich on espionage charges has been extended until Nov. 30, Russian state news agency Tass said.
Gershkovich arrived at the Moscow court on Thursday in a white prison van and was led out handcuffed, wearing jeans, trainers and a shirt. Journalists outside the court were not allowed to witness the proceedings. Tass said they were held behind closed doors because the details of the criminal case are classified.
The prosecutor had asked to extend his arrest from August 30. He has appealed against the extension of his detention.
Gershkovich, 31, was arrested in Yekaterinburg at the end of March while on a reporting trip. The Russian Federal Security Service said that Gershkovich “acting on the instructions of the US side collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex.”
Gershkovich and his employer deny the allegations, and the US government stated that he was wrongly detained. Gershkovich’s case is secretly wrapped. Russian authorities have not detailed what evidence they have gathered to support the espionage allegations.
Earlier in August, US Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy made her third visit to Gershkovich and reported that he appeared to be in good health despite difficult circumstances. Gershkovich was held in Moscow’s Lefortovo Prison, notorious for its harsh conditions.
Gershkovich is the first American reporter to be charged with espionage in Russia since September 1986, when Nicholas Daniloff, a Moscow correspondent for US News and World Report, was arrested by the KGB.
Analysts have pointed out that Moscow could use captured Americans as a bargaining chip in inflaming US-Russian tensions over the Kremlin’s military operation in Ukraine. At least two US nationals arrested in Russia in recent years – including WNBA star Brittney Griner – have been traded for Russians imprisoned in the US