Russian court rejects appeal to release WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich | Freedom of the Press News

President Vladimir Putin says he hopes for settlement with US on prisoner swap however admits ‘it’s not easy’.

An American reporter jailed in Russia should keep behind bars into the brand new 12 months as he awaits trial on espionage fees, a Russian court docket has dominated.

Evan Gershkovich, a Moscow correspondent for The Wall Avenue Journal, has been in jail since March on accusations of spying – fees that he, his employer and the US authorities reject.

A Moscow metropolis court docket on Thursday upheld a November ruling extending Gershkovich’s pre-trial detention to January 30, 2024, because it rejected his enchantment to be launched.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, at his end-of-year information convention on Thursday, mentioned he hoped an settlement may very well be reached with the US a couple of doable prisoner swap for Gershkovich in addition to former US marine and safety government Paul Whelan, additionally jailed on espionage fees.

Whereas Russia had ongoing contacts with the US over the problem, Putin mentioned: “It isn’t easy, I cannot go into particulars now, however basically, it appears to me that we converse a language that’s comprehensible to one another. I hope we are going to discover a resolution. However, I repeat, the American aspect should hear us and make an applicable choice, one which fits the Russian aspect.”

US ambassador Lynne Tracy, talking exterior the court docket, mentioned: “Evan’s ordeal has now stretched on for over 250 days. His life has been placed on maintain for over eight months for a criminal offense he didn’t commit.”

“It isn’t acceptable that Russian authorities have chosen to make use of him as a political pawn.”

‘Hostage diplomacy’

Gershkovich was detained by Russian authorities on March 29 within the metropolis of Yekaterinburg, some 2,000km (1,243 miles) east of Moscow, and accused of spying, making him the primary Western reporter to be held on such fees in Russia because the Soviet period.

Russia’s Federal Safety Service claims the reporter was “caught red-handed” making an attempt to acquire secret details about a Russian arms manufacturing facility. He faces 20 years in jail if convicted.

Gershkovich’s authorized workforce and his supporters have dismissed the fees as baseless – and Russia has not publicly supplied proof.

The US has declared Gershkovich to be “wrongfully detained” and accused Russia of utilizing him for “hostage diplomacy”.

This month, Washington mentioned Russia had rejected a “significant proposal” to launch Gershkovich and Whelan.

Nevertheless, US Nationwide Safety Advisor Jake Sullivan mentioned the setback wouldn’t “deter” the US authorities from “persevering with to do all the pieces we are able to to try to deliver each of them residence”.

On Tuesday, Sullivan mentioned Gershkovich’s launch was a high precedence for the White Home.

Gershkovich’s detention has unfolded amid heightened tensions between the US and Russia over the war in Ukraine and what Russia’s critics say is an expansive crackdown on unbiased media.

The US can be trying into the detention of US-Russian twin citizen Alsu Kurmasheva, who was arrested within the central metropolis of Kazan in October for failing to register as a “overseas agent”.

Kurmasheva’s employer, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), this week denounced the brand new fees filed towards her after experiences that she has additionally been accused of violating guidelines towards Ukraine conflict criticism.

Russia and the US have agreed to a number of high-profile prisoner exchanges in recent times, together with swapping jailed US ladies’s basketball star Brittney Griner for Russian arms vendor Viktor Bout in December 2022.

The Russian overseas ministry has mentioned it might think about a swap for Gershkovich solely after a verdict in his trial, which might final for greater than a 12 months.

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