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Moscow court refuses to consider appeal of imprisoned journalist

A Moscow court on Tuesday refused to consider American journalist Evan Gershkovich’s latest appeal against his pre-trial detention, almost six months after his arrest on espionage charges that he denies.

The court’s press service announced the decision without explanation, after a closed-door hearing. The official RIA news agency said the appeal was sent back to a lower court due to unspecified “procedural violations.”

Gershkovich, a journalist at the Wall Street Journal, was arrested on March 29 in Yekaterinburg, in the Urals, for espionage, punishable by 20 years in prison.

No date has been set for his trial and last month his detention at Moscow’s Lefortovo prison was extended by three months, until November 30.

He had failed in two previous appeals, in April and June, against his pre-trial detention.

The United States has designated Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, an American convicted of espionage in 2020 and serving 16 years in a Russian penal colony, as “wrongfully detained,” meaning it considers the charges against them as false and politically motivated.

“It is unacceptable that Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan are still languishing in Russian prisons on baseless charges,” US Ambassador Lynne Tracy told reporters after Tuesday’s hearing.

“America will not rest until Evan and Paul are home safe with their families and friends. »

Russia said Gershkovich was caught “red-handed” during a trip to Yekaterinburg in the Urals, where FSB security services said he was trying to obtain military secrets.