US journalist appeals Russia espionage charges amid increasing international condemnation

Attorneys for jailed US journalist Evan Gershkovich Monday appealed his arrest on charges of espionage in a Russian court. Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter, is currently being held in a Russian detention facility on espionage charges after being arrested by the Russian Federal Security Service on March 29 in Yekaterinburg, Russia. His arrest has drawn widespread criticism, including from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a Sunday call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Vedomosti business daily, a Russian news source, first reported Gershkovich’s appeal Monday based on a press report from the Lefortovo District Court in Moscow, Russia. The court has not yet set a date to hear the appeal. On March 29, the court remanded Gershkovich into custody under Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code. Gershkovich faces potentially 20 years in prison.

Gershkovich’s arrest continues to draw international criticism. During his call with Lavrov, Blinken condemned Russian authorities’ actions and expressed conern over Gershkovich’s ongoing detention. US allies have also condemned Gershkovich’s arrest and, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal, are considering denouncing Russia in the UN Security Council, as Russia just took over presidency of the body.

The Wall Street Journal has denied all accusations against Gershkovich and continues to call for his release. Gershkovich has reported in Russia for six years, and most recently covered the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He has written articles detailing accounts from the perspective of Russian soldiers, as well as an article discussing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s tactics and headspace.

Gershkovich’s arrest marks the first time Russian authorities have charged a US journalist with espionage since the Cold War. Gershkovich is not the only American currently in Russian custody either. During their Sunday call, Blinken also called for the release of former US Marine Paul Whelan. Russian authorities detained Whelan in Russia on December 28, 2021 on similar charges of espionage. Another US citizen was also detained for suspected espionage in January, though not many details are known about the individual.