American journalist Evan Gershkovich celebrates one year of Russian detention

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American journalist Evan Gershkovich, arrested on espionage charges, lies inside a defendant’s cage before a hearing to consider an appeal over his prolonged pretrial detention at Moscow City Court on October 10, 2023.

American journalist Evan Gershkovich marked the grim milestone of a year of Russian detention on Friday, as US efforts still fail to achieve his release.

“This has been a really difficult year for our family,” Gershkovich’s sister, Danielle Gershkovich, said at an event last week. “It’s just a lot of uncertainty and we have to deal with it day by day.”

The Wall Street Journal reporter was arrested in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg on March 29, 2023, and shortly afterward was charged with espionage, a charge strongly denied by Gershkovich, the U.S. government, and his employer. Gershkovich is the first journalist to be arrested on such charges since the Cold War, and the Russian government has yet to provide any evidence to support his claim.

Less than two weeks after his arrest, Gershkovich was declared unjustly detained by the US State Department, which called for his immediate release.

The 32-year-old journalist has since been imprisoned in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo prison. He has not yet been tried and his remand was extended again on Tuesday until June 30.

“This verdict to further extend Evan’s detention seems particularly painful as this week marks one year since Evan was wrongfully arrested and detained,” US Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy said Tuesday.

“Evan’s case is not about evidence, due process or the rule of law. “This is about using American citizens as pawns to achieve political ends,” she stated. “Evan has shown remarkable resilience and strength in the face of this bleak situation. But it is time for the Russian government to let Evan go.”

In recent years, Russia has detained several other Americans. Former Marine Paul Whelan was arrested in Russia in 2018 and is also designated as wrongfully detained. Russian-American journalist Alsou Kurmasheva was detained in June 2023, Russian-American dancer Ksenia Karelina was detained arrested in januaryand the American professor Marc Fogel was arrested in August 2021.

U.S. special presidential envoy for hostage affairs Roger Carstens said Thursday that he hoped the Russian government would have extended Gershkovich’s pretrial detention “so that we have another 90-day period to look for ways to reach an agreement to bring both Evan and Paul.” Whelan home,” noting that once the case goes to trial, it could be more difficult to reach a settlement.

“Once a trial starts in Russia, the Russians will typically follow it,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “And then if the trial process starts with Evan, that could lead to a period of about seven, eight, nine, ten months where it may be more difficult for us to try to reach an agreement and reach an agreement to bring him to home.”

“In my opinion, I am hopeful that the Russians are thinking that in the next 90 days they will be able to work with us to reach that agreement that will get them home before the trial begins, but it is difficult to understand it. about this,” Carstens added.

In December, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said the United States had “in recent weeks” presented Russia with “a new and significant proposal to secure the release of Paul and Evan,” but that Moscow rejected it. U.S. officials have declined to discuss the details of the proposal, but have repeatedly said that bringing Gershkovich home is something they are continually working on.

Gershkovich had lived and worked in Russia for years before his arrest. In an opinion article published in the Philadelphia researcher Earlier this week, Danielle Gershkovich wrote that reporting was her brother’s “dream job,” and he was accredited by the Russian Foreign Ministry to do it.

“I think about him now, sitting in Lefortovo prison in Moscow, unable to do what he loves. My heart aches for him, an eternally curious, adventurous and motivated person, now isolated from the world, from friends and family, missing out on precious time,” she wrote.

Throughout his ordeal, Gershkovich has been able to maintain his strength and his sense of humor, he wrote.

“But not even a resilient person like him can maintain this state indefinitely. The urgency to get it back increases every day. We will continue to fight every day to get him home as soon as possible,” wrote Danielle Gershkovich. “His family needs him at home, his friends need him at home and the world needs him to return to doing the work he loves so much.”

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