A court in Moscow extended pretrial detention charges for American journalist Evan Gershkovich on Tuesday, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. The Wall Street Journal reporter will now be held in Russian detention until August 30.
The Lefortovo Court of Moscow, Russia approved the extension following a request from the investigator leading the espionage case against Gershkovich. The hearing was not open to the public and materials from it remain classified.
At a Tuesday press briefing, US Department of State representative Matthew Miller confirmed that US ambassadors were present at the hearing, but was unable to confirm if Gershkovich was given permission to speak to them. Further, Miller confirmed that Russian rejected requests for consular access to Gershkovich, again. Gershkovich’s parents were in attendance.
Miller called upon Russia to “fulfill its consular obligations; and…to immediately release” Gershkovich.
Russian state security forces first arrested Gershkovich on March 30 and then formally charged him on the basis of collecting “information constituting a state secret about the activities of an enterprise within Russia’s military-industrial complex.” On April 18, the Lefortovo Court of Moscow rejected Gershkovich’s attempt to appeal the charges against him. He was initially ordered to remain in a Russian detention facility until May 29–but Tuesday’s decision has since extended that time.
Gershkovich is the first US journalist charged with espionage since the Cold War. Both the US government and the Wall Street Journal maintain that Gershkovich is wrongfully detained and call for his immediate release.