U.S. Reporter Evan Gershkovich's Espionage Case Heads to Russian Court

Evan Gershkovich, a U.S. reporter for the Wall Street Journal, has been charged with espionage by Russian prosecutors, who allege he was collecting information for the CIA about a Russian tank factory. Gershkovich denies the charges and is currently held in pre-trial detention in Moscow.

Reuters | Updated: 13-06-2024 19:52 IST | Created: 13-06-2024 19:52 IST
U.S. Reporter Evan Gershkovich's Espionage Case Heads to Russian Court
Evan Gershkovich

Russian prosecutors said on Thursday they had sent the case of detained U.S. reporter Evan Gershkovich to court after concluding he had been collecting information for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency about a Russian tank factory. Gershkovich, 32, was arrested on March 29, 2023, in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg on charges of espionage that carry up to 20 years in prison after the FSB, the main successor agency to the KGB, said it had caught him "red-handed" trying to obtain military secrets.

Gershkovich and his employer, the Wall Street Journal, have flatly denied the charges and the newspaper has repeatedly called for his immediate release. The White House has called the charges "ridiculous", with President Joe Biden calling the detention "totally illegal". The office of Russia's General Prosecutor said in a statement it had approved Gershkovich's criminal indictment and that his case would be heard by a court in Yekaterinburg, where he was originally arrested.

It did not say when the case would be heard or whether the trial would be closed to the public as is common in such cases. "The investigation has established and confirmed with documentary evidence that Gershkovich, an American journalist for The Wall Street Journal, on the instructions of the CIA, collected secret information in the Sverdlovsk region in March 2023 about the activities of the defence plant NPK Uralvagonzavod JSC on the production and repair of military equipment," the prosecutors' statement said.

"Gershkovich carried out the illegal actions using painstaking conspiratorial methods," it added. Prosecutors did not release any documentary evidence to back the charge.

PRE-TRIAL DETENTION Gershkovich, the first U.S. journalist arrested on spying charges in Russia since the Cold War, is currently being held in pre-trial detention in Moscow and has been the subject of so far fruitless

prisoner exchange talks between Moscow and Washington.

The Uralvagonzavod factory, which has been sanctioned by the West, is based in the city of Nizhny Tagil in Russia's Sverdlovsk region and, according to the Russian Defence Ministry, plays a crucial role in supplying tanks for Moscow's war in Ukraine. The factory, which is controlled by a state conglomerate controlled by one of President Vladimir Putin's allies, has publicly spoken of producing T-90M battle tanks and of modernising T-72B3M tanks.

The number of tanks which Russia has lost in battle in Ukraine is a military secret in Russia, which says it has ramped up

tank production. The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies

said in February that Russia had lost more than 3,000 tanks - the equivalent of its entire pre-war active inventory - but had enough lower-quality armoured vehicles in storage for years of replacements.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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