U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy made her first visit to Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who is being held at Moscow’s Lefortovo Prison. Tracy’s visit comes over two weeks after Russia detained the journalist on espionage charges. Tracy tweeted from the U.S. Embassy account: “I visited @WSJ’s Evan #Gershkovich today at Lefortovo Prison – the first time we’ve been permitted access to him since his wrongful detention more than two weeks ago. He is in good health and remains strong. We reiterate our call for his immediate release. #FreeEvan”
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said in a statement, which was reported by Russian state media, that Gershkovich was detained on March 30 on suspicion of “espionage in the interests of the American government.” The Wall Street Journal and the Biden administration have repeatedly denied that Gershkovich was affiliated with the U.S. government. Russian authorities have not provided evidence to support the charges, and they had denied the embassy’s requests for access to Gershkovich.
The Lefortovo Court in Moscow initially ordered Gershkovich to be detained until May 29. Gershkovich denied the charges against him, according to the TASS state news agency. Reuters reported that on Tuesday, the court will hear a complaint Gershkovich filed against the decision to detain him ahead of a possible trial. If convicted, the journalist could face up to 20 years in prison.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said Monday that while she was “absolutely delighted” that Tracy was allowed to see Gershkovich, “we still call for his unconditional release He is being held unfairly and unjustly and the Russians need to allow him to return to his family. We protest Russian efforts to limit and intimidate the media. Free, independent and pluralistic media play an indispensable role in informing people around the world.”
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