A Moscow court on Tuesday extended the pretrial detention of Evan Gershkovich, an American reporter for The Wall Street Journal who has been held in Russia for nearly eight months on an espionage charge that he, his newspaper and the U.S. government vehemently reject.
Mr. Gershkovich, 32, has been held in the notoriously strict Lefortovo prison in Moscow since his arrest on March 29 during a reporting trip to the central Russian city of Yekaterinburg. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in a Russian penal colony.
Wearing jeans and a checkered shirt under a dark jacket, Mr. Gershkovich listened to the judge on Tuesday from a white courtroom cage, according to a video shared by the press service for Moscow courts.
The ruling means that Mr. Gershkovich will remain in custody until Jan. 30; it was the third time his detention has been extended.
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow, which had representatives at the hearing, said it was “deeply concerned” by the decision. “We reiterate our call on Evan’s immediate release,” it said in a statement on Telegram.
The arrest of Mr. Gershkovich on a spying charge was the first of an American journalist since the end of the Cold War, underscoring the extent to which Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has damaged relations between Moscow and Washington.
The U.S. government has designated Mr. Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained,” which effectively means that the American government considers him a political prisoner.
Other Americans detained in Russia who have received this designation include the basketball star Brittney Griner, who was arrested on drug trafficking charges and released in December in a prisoner exchange, and Paul Whelan, a former Marine and corporate executive who is serving a 16-year sentence on espionage charges that the United States calls politically motivated.
In October, the Russian authorities detained Alsu Kurmasheva, an editor working for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, an American broadcaster funded by the U.S. government. Ms. Kurmasheva, who holds both Russian and American citizenship, was charged with failing to register as a “foreign agent.”
The Russian authorities have suggested that they could be open to a prisoner swap for Mr. Gershkovich, but only after a verdict is made in his case.