Evan Gershkovich: Russia extends Jewish reporter's detention by three months

The US Wall Street Journal reporter will remain in jail in Moscow until at least November 30, according to Russian state media


A Moscow court has extended the detention of Jewish American journalist Evan Gershkovich by three months, Russian state news agency Tass has reported.

The Wall Street Journal reporter, 31, has been detained in Russia since March on charges of espionage – which the US has signalled it believes are bogus – and will now remain in jail until November 30. 

In June, Gershkovich lost his appeal against the extension of his pre-trial detention. His detention marks the first time an American journalist has been held in Russia on spying charges since the Cold War. 

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) alleged that Gershkovich “was collecting classified information about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military industrial complex”.

However, many believe the arrest was politically motivated, with Moscow using Gershkovich, a “trusted and dedicated” journalist, as a pawn in a potential prisoner swap. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison. 

Quoting an unidentified “court source” Tass said: “The court has satisfied a motion filed by an FSB investigator for extending Gershkovich’s term of detention until November 30.”

The Wall Street Journal has said it “vehemently denies” the allegations and demanded the “immediate release” of its “trusted and dedicated reporter”.

In the statement released in March, the newspaper added: “We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family.”

Earlier this month, the US ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, met Gershkovich for the third time, in Lefortovo Prison in Moscow, where the journalist is being held.

“Ambassador Tracy said that Evan continues to appear in good health and remains strong, despite his circumstances,” the State Department said at the time.

Gershkovich is the son of Russian-speaking Jewish immigrants who fled the Soviet Union in the face of persecution, eventually settling in New Jersey. 

His mother, Ella Milman, told The Wall Street Journal in April that her mother would cover the front windows with a blanket whenever she lit candles so that neighbours would not know the family was Jewish.

The episode has resonated with American Jews, many of whom have rallied together to call for Gershkovich’s release. 

The Jewish Federations of North America, a large collection of Jewish organisations around the US, published an open letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken in May, detailing the personal impact of Gershkovich’s detainment.

“Evan and his family are members of our American Jewish community,” the letter said.

“Our community stands ready to fully support you and your colleagues in our government and again urges you to use all available tools to bring Evan home as soon as possible.”

The US government continues to urge Russia to release Gershkovich. President Joe Biden told reporters in July that he was “serious about a prisoner exchange”. 

The details of when and how such an exchange would occur have not yet been detailed. 

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