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US reporter may face 20 years in jail in Russia


 

If found guilty, the 32-year-old reporter, who has already spent nearly 15 months in Moscow’s infamous Lefortovo jail, may spend an additional 20 years behind bars.

Before the court in Yekaterinburg, where the US journalist is accused of espionage, which he denies, reporters were given a limited opportunity to film the journalist.

Before the hearings were over, Mr. Gershkovich was observed standing in a glass box.

The next hearing is set for August 13. In March 2023, the Wall Street Journal writer was initially taken into custody after Russia alleged that he had been “gathering secret information” under the CIA’s directives.

If found guilty, the 32-year-old reporter, who has already spent nearly 15 months in Moscow’s infamous Lefortovo jail, may spend an additional 20 years behind bars. Over 99% of defendants in Russian courts are found guilty, and prosecutors have the right to challenge sentences they believe to be excessively light or even acquittals.

The prosecutor general’s office stated that the first information regarding the accusations against him surfaced last week. It was said that he was looking for information about Uralvagonzavod, a plant that manufactures and fixes military hardware.

No proof to support the allegations has been made public by the authorities. The trial is scheduled to occur in private, as Russia in it is customary in instances involving espionage.

The US government, Mr. Gershkovich’s employer, and they all strongly refute the allegations, and Washington has declared him unjustly detained.

Jay Conti, executive vice president and general counsel for Dow Jones, which publishes the Journal, described the trial as a sham, saying: “He was an accredited journalist doing journalism, and this is a sham trial, bogus charges that are completely trumped up.”

“Evan has done nothing wrong. He should never have been arrested in the first place. Journalism is not a crime,” US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said last week.
He added: “The charges against him are false. And the Russian government knows that they’re false. He should be released immediately.”

Negotiations for Mr. Gershkovich’s release have been pursued by the White House; however, Moscow has stated that it will only consider a prisoner swap following a trial verdict.

That might not happen for months, though, as Russian court cases frequently adjourn for many weeks. Brittney Griner, a famous basketball player, was released from a long prison sentence for possessing cannabis in 2022 thanks to a high-profile prisoner exchange arranged by the Kremlin and Washington, despite the fact that relations between the two countries are strained due to the conflict in Ukraine.

(Source: Sky News)


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