First Public Russian Court Appearance: Detained US reporter makes first public Russian court appearance


MOSCOW: US reporter Evan Gershkovich appeared at a court hearing partly open to the press on Tuesday for the first time since his arrest for espionage, an AFP reporter in the courtroom saw.
Gershkovich wore a checkered shirt, crossed his arms and smiled before the start of the hearing in Moscow, which is an appeal against his pre-trial detention.
US ambassador to Moscow Lynne Tracy could also be seen in the courtroom.
Journalists and the ambassador were allowed into the courtroom before the start of the hearing but were then ushered out and will only be allowed back in to hear the decision at the end of the hearing.
Wall Street Journal reporter Gershkovich, the US-born son of Soviet Jewish emigres, was arrested last month by Russia’s FSB security service during a reporting trip in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg.
The FSB said the 31-year-old tried to obtain classified defence information for the US government but the details of the case have been kept top secret.
Gershkovich, who has also worked for AFP, is the first foreign journalist arrested on spying allegations since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Since his arrest on March 29, Gershkovich has appeared in court only once before — at a closed custody hearing on March 30.
He was remanded in custody until May 29.
US President Joe Biden has called his imprisonment “totally illegal”.
More than three dozen news organisations have also signed a letter to the Russian ambassador in the United States, denouncing “unfounded espionage charges”.
“Gershkovich’s unwarranted and unjust arrest is a significant escalation in your government’s anti-press actions,” the letter released by the Committee to Protect Journalists said.
“Gershkovich is a journalist, not a spy, and should be released immediately and without conditions,” it added.


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