Russia prosecutors send espionage indictment against US reporter Evan Gerskovich to court News
Photos: Evan Gershkovich // Facebook, Flickr
Russia prosecutors send espionage indictment against US reporter Evan Gerskovich to court

The Russian Prosecutor General’s office announced Thursday that it approved an espionage indictment against Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who has been detained in Russia since March 2023, and sent his case to the Sverdlovsk Regional Court in the city of Yekaterinburg. Gershkovich’s detention has been condemned by his employer and press freedom groups, and the US has classified Gerskovich as “wrongfully detained.”

In a Telegram post, the Prosecutor General’s office reiterated that Gerskovich was charged under Article 276 of Russia’s criminal code, which punishes the transfer of state secrets by foreign citizens with 10 to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors claimed that Gershkovich collected information about Russian government-owned defense manufacturer NPK Uralvagonzavod on behalf of the CIA. The US has sanctioned the weapons maker over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Gershkovich has unsuccessfully attempted to appeal the charges against him. The journalist’s pretrial detention has been extended five times since his March 2023 arrest.

As the OSCE’s media freedom representative presented a report Thursday outlining threats to the free press, US Charge d’Affaires to the OSCE Katherine Brucker renewed the US’s call for Gershkovich’s release. “We call for the release of all those incarcerated for carrying out their journalistic duties, including Evan Gershkovich and Alsu Kurmasheva who are among the dozens of media workers currently held in Russia. Journalism is not a crime, nor should it be a death sentence,” Brucker said.

Press freedom in Russia has been almost nonexistent since its invasion of Ukraine, according to press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders. Last week Russia banned the entry of a number of British journalists and politicians over “instilling Russophobia and spreading disinformation.” On June 2, the country also extended the detention of Russian-American RadioFreeEurope Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) journalist Alsu Kurmasheva on charges of failure to register as a foreign agent.