Spread the love

Russia: journalist Gershkovich will be tried for spying for the CIA

The Russian Prosecutor's Office announced Thursday that American journalist Evan Gershkovich would be tried soon à Ekaterinburg, in the Urals, for "espionage", accusedé for having collected information on a tank factory on behalf of the CIA, with Washington and NATO claiming for their part his "immediate" release.

This Wall Street Journal (WSJ) journalist, aged 32, was arrested in March 2023 by the Russian security services (FSB) during a report in Yekaterinburg. He, his relatives, his employer and his country denounce a fabricated affair, while Russia has never substantiated its accusations.

“The criminal case has been sent to the Sverdlovsk Regional Court for consideration on the merits,” the Russian Prosecutor's Office said. It is now up to the court to set the date for the start of the trial.

“These accusations have zero credibility,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters, adding that “the accusations against him are false and the Russian government knows they are false.” He again called for his “immediate” release.

“I join the United States in calling on Russia to release journalist Evan Gershkovich. He is a journalist, he is doing his journalistic work for of a free media and, therefore, it must be liberated”, reacted NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

“The step that the Russia to organize a mock trial is not surprising but very disappointing” and “scandalous”, the management of the WSJ had previously reacted, saying they expected “the American government to redouble its efforts” for the release of the journalist.

The prosecution affirmed that the reporter had “collected secret information” on the Uralvagonzavod company on behalf of American intelligence.

Uralvagonzavod is one of Russia's largest arms manufacturers, producing T-90 battle tanks used in Ukraine and the next-generation Armata tank, as well as freight wagons.

Russia: journalist Gershkovich will be tried for spying for the CIA

American journalist Evan Gershkovich speaks with his lawyer after a hearing to examine an appeal regarding his detention, April 23, 2024 in Moscow © AFP – Natalia KOLESNIKOVA

According to the Prosecutor's Office, “the investigation established and documented that Gershkovich (…) was instructed by the CIA in March 2023 to collect secret information in the Sverdlovsk region on the activities of ( this) defense company”.

Evan Gershkovich, who worked for the AFP in Moscow between 2020 and 2021, rejects these accusations of “espionage”, punishable by 20 years in prison.

Russia never publicly provided any evidence and the entire procedure was classified secret. The prosecutor did not provide any additional information on Thursday.

These accusations are of unprecedented seriousness since the end of the USSR for a foreign journalist.

– “Contacts” in progress –

Washington accuses Moscow of having taken it hostage to obtain an exchange, as has already been the case in the past.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was willing to exchange the journalist for Vadim Krassikov, imprisoned for life in Germany for the assassination of a former war commander from Chechnya to Berlin in 2019.

Russia: journalist Gershkovich will be tried for spying for the CIA

American journalist Evan Gershkovich speaks with his lawyers after a hearing to examine an appeal regarding his detention, April 23, 2024 in Moscow © AFP – Natalia KOLESNIKOVA

At the beginning of June, Mr. Putin again indicated that contacts were “constant” between Russia and the United States to reach an agreement.

“I will not go into details. I know that the American administration is acting energetically to obtain his release,” said the Russian president, stressing that these talks must be carried out with the greatest discretion.

Efforts for such an agreement could, however, have taken a more complicated turn since the death in prison of Russian opponent Alexeï Navalny who, according to his entourage, was also part of a prisoner exchange project currently being negotiated.

In March, the American ambassador to Moscow, Lynne Tracy, indicated that Mr. Gershkovich “demonstrated remarkable resistance and strength in the face of this sinister situation”, calling on Moscow to release him without delay.

Since the arrest of Evan Gershkovich, Russian justice has systematically extended, every two to three months, his pre-trial detention in Lefortovo prison, held by the FSB in Moscow.

Like him, former US Marine Paul Whelan, imprisoned in Russia since 2018, is also awaiting an exchange and rejects the accusations of espionage which earned him a sentence 16 years in prison.

Dual nationals have also been recently arrested. Russian-American Ksenia Karelina was arrested in February, accused of “high treason” for having made a donation to the Ukrainian army.

Before her, a Russian journalist -American, Alsu Kurmasheva, working for the media RFE/RL financed by the American Congress, was arrested in October 2023. She is accused of disseminating “false information” about the Russian army.

Russia also detained at the beginning of June a French national, Laurent Vinatier, collaborator of a Swiss conflict resolution NGO and accused of not having registered as a “foreign agent “collecting information about the Russian army.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116