MOSCOW (AP) –
A Moscow court on Thursday rejected the appeal of Ivan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was arrested on charges of espionage in Russia, and upheld an earlier sentence extending his detention until the end of August.
Gershkovitch, a 31-year-old US citizen, was arrested in late March while on a business trip. Last month, a Moscow court decided to extend his detention until August 30, but his lawyers have appealed the verdict.
Before the session began, the journalist, dressed in a black T-shirt and light blue jeans, appeared tense and was walking inside the glass compartment occupied by the defendants. Minutes later, the other reporters in the room were asked to leave and the session began behind closed doors.
Gershkovitch’s parents and the United States Ambassador to Russia Lynn Tracy were in the room during the proceedings. Speaking to reporters afterwards, Tracy said that “Evan continues to display remarkable strength and resilience in these very difficult circumstances.”
Gershkovitch and his company denied any espionage in Russia. The US government announced that he had been unjustly arrested and demanded his immediate release.
His arrest in the city of Yekaterinburg shocked reporters in Russia, as authorities have not made it clear what evidence, if any, has been gathered to support the spying charge.
Gershkovich is being held in Lefortovo Prison in Moscow, which is notorious for its harsh conditions. US embassy officials were allowed to visit him once, but two more requests were denied by the Russian authorities.
Deputy Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters on Thursday that the Russian Foreign Ministry is considering another request to visit the embassy.
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