Evan Gershkovich, WSJ Reporter Detained in Russia, Appeals His Arrest

Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was detained in Russia last week, has appealed his arrest, according to Russian state news agencies, which cited Moscow’s Lefortovo court in their reports on Monday.

“The court has received an appeal from Gershkovich’s defense against his detention,” the court’s press service said, according to the state news agency Tass. A date has not yet been set for the hearing.

Alexei Melnikov, the secretary of Moscow’s public oversight commission — a group of civil society members who monitor human rights in pretrial detention centers — said in a statement on Monday that he had visited Mr. Gershkovich, 31, at the prison at Lefortovo.

Mr. Gershkovich seemed cheerful and made jokes during their conversation, Mr. Melnikov said. He has also been reading the book “Life and Fate,” by Vasily Grossman, set in Stalinist Russia during World War II.

Lefortovo Prison was used by the K.G.B. as a place to keep Soviet dissidents. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, it has been used by the K.G.B.’s successor, the F.S.B., to isolate opponents of the Kremlin.

Russian authorities detained Mr. Gershkovich last Thursday in Yekaterinburg, where he had been on a reporting trip, and accused of him of espionage. The Russian authorities have provided no evidence for the charge, and The Wall Street Journal and U.S. officials have vehemently denied the allegation.

Mr. Gershkovich was transferred on the same day to Moscow, where a district court on Thursday formally arrested him and ordered him to be jailed until May 29. Going by past precedent, he is likely to be held far longer than that.

If convicted — and acquittals in Russian espionage cases are exceedingly rare — Mr. Gershkovich faces up to 20 years in a Russian penal colony.

Mr. Gershkovich, an American journalist born to Soviet émigrés, moved from New York to Russia in late 2017 to take up his first reporting role, a job at The Moscow Times. In January 2022, he was hired as a Moscow-based correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.

Ivan Nechepurenko and Katie Robertson contributed reporting.

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