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Jailed WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich makes court appearance

A judge upheld the detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich during a quick court hearing in Moscow on Tuesday.

The decision means Gershkovich, 31, will remain in Russian custody as he continues to fight criminal espionage charges following his arrest in late March.

In an article, the Wall Street Journal said Tuesday’s hearing was “held behind closed doors,” though reporters and photographers were allowed to photograph Gershkovich prior to the hearing. The photographs showed the journalist standing cross-armed inside a wood-and-glass box as he waited for the start of the hearing.

In an interview with the PBS NewsHour, Dow Jones CEO Almar Latour said the company offered $600,000 to secure bail for Gershkovich, but the offer was denied by Russian officials.

“It was obviously very disturbing to see Evan in a glass cage just for doing his job, just for reporting,” Latour said. “It’s disturbing for the family, it’s disturbing for all of his colleagues…we were expecting this outcome, but nonetheless, we were disappointed.”

American government officials and the Wall Street Journal have refuted the espionage charges against Gershkovich, who was credentialed to work as a reporter in Russia and had been covering the country’s ongoing military conflict with neighboring Ukraine.

“Evan is wrongfully detained and the charges of espionage against him are false,” a spokesperson for Dow Jones, the parent company of the Wall Street Journal, said in a statement on Tuesday. “We demand his immediate release and are doing everything in our power to secure it.”

The spokesperson confirmed Gershkovich’s lawyers and the U.S. Ambassador to Russia were allowed to attend the hearing this week. The next hearing is scheduled for late May; throughout that time, Gershkovich will be kept at Lefortovo Prison, where political prisoners are typically housed.

Russia has provided no evidence that Gershkovich was engaged in activities beyond journalism, to include spying on behalf of a foreign government.

If Gershkovich is convicted — and most espionage cases brought in Russia wind up that way — he faces 10 to 20 years in prison.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).