US journalist Evan Gershkovich appeals extension of his espionage detention

MOSCOW (AP) — Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has appealed a three-month extension to his detention on charges of espionage, a Russian court data website reported Friday.

Gershkovich, a 31-year-old US citizen, was arrested in March while on a reporting trip to Russia. He, his employer and the US government have denied the charges. A Moscow court on Tuesday extended his detention until August 30.

According to the court’s website, the appeal was filed Thursday in the Lefortovo District Court. There was no information on whether a date had been set for a hearing.

Gerhskovich’s case has been shrouded in secrecy. Russian authorities have not detailed what evidence – if any – they have gathered to support the espionage charges.

Various legal proceedings in this case have been closed to the media. State news agency Tass said Tuesday’s hearing was held behind closed doors because the journalist was accused of possessing “secret documents”.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday evening that Gershkovich’s parents, Soviet émigrés living in New Jersey, were visiting Moscow and saw their son during the brief hearing.

“I don’t know how to describe this happiness and this sadness at the same time,” said the journalist’s mother, Ella Milman, as quoted by the newspaper. She said Gershkovich looked relaxed and good, and they communicated through smiles.

The US State Department said at least one US embassy official also attended the hearing.

Gershkovich’s arrest rocked journalists nationwide and sparked outrage in the West.

The US government declared Gershkovich wrongfully detained and demanded his immediate release. He is being held in Lefortovo prison in Moscow.

US Embassy officials have been allowed to visit Gershkovich once in prison since his arrest in Yekaterinburg on March 29, but Russian authorities have refused two more recent requests to see him.

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