Moscow court declines to hear WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich's appeal

ByKevin Shalvey ABCNews logo
Tuesday, September 19, 2023

LONDON -- The Wall Street Journal reporter detained in Russia appeared on Tuesday in Moscow City Court to appeal an August decision to extend his pre-trial detention, but was turned away without a ruling.

Evan Gershkovich, a Moscow correspondent with the paper, has been detained on spying charges since March, when Russian officials accused him of collecting state secrets about the military. A judge in Lefortovo Court in Moscow had extended the journalist's pre-trial detention until Nov. 30.

There were few details available as to why the court declined to hear Gershkovich's appeal. The case is expected to be returned to a lower court. An appeal will have to be resubmitted.

"The Moscow City Court considered the lawyers' complaint in a closed court session and decided to remove the material regarding E. Gershkovich from appeal consideration, and send the material to the Lefortovo District Court of Moscow to eliminate the circumstances impeding the consideration of the criminal case in the appellate court," the court said in a statement on Tuesday.

The hearing on Tuesday was held behind closed doors, as the case contains classified materials, the court's press service said. Russian officials have not detailed their case against Gershkovich.

"The U.S. position remains unshakable: The accusations against Evan are unfounded," Lynne Tracy, the U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation, said outside the courtroom. "The Russian government imprisoned Evan for simply doing his job. Journalism is not a crime."

The correspondent was arrested by Russia's Federal Security Service, known as the FSB, on March 29 in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

Gershkovich's parents and sister appeared earlier this month at the United Nations, joining U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield in asking member states to declare the reporter's detention illegal.

WSJ lawyers filed a petition asking U.N. members to condemn his imprisonment.

"No family should have to watch their loved one being used as a political pawn," Thomas-Greenfield said. "And that's exactly what President Putin is doing."

She said Russia's actions were "beyond cruel" and a "violation of international law."

President Joe Biden, who spoke with Gershkovich's family in April, has said the detention was "totally illegal."

State department officials said the U.S. determined the journalist had been "wrongfully detained."

The House of Representatives in June unanimously passed a resolution calling for the immediate release of Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, another American being held in Russia.

"Both of these gentlemen are wrongfully detained," John Kirby, spokesperson for the National Security Council, said on "Good Morning America" on Tuesday. "Both are being charged with espionage, which is a ridiculous charge."

ABC News' Shannon Crawford, Guy Davies and Patrick Reevell contributed to this story.

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