MOSCOW (AP) — A Wall Street Journal reporter who was detained in Russia on espionage charges lost his appeal against his arrest Tuesday, meaning he will stay in jail until at least the end of November.
Evan Gershkovich, wearing a blue shirt, T-shirt and jeans, appeared in a glass defendant’s cage at Moscow City Court as he once again appealed his release. He stared at the cameras in court with a blank expression.
It was the second time in less than a month that the journalist had appeared before a judge after the Moscow court declined to hear his appeal in September owing to unspecified procedural violations.
The latest decision means Gershkovich, 31, will remain jailed at least until Nov. 30, unless an appeal is heard in the meantime and he is released — an unlikely outcome.
The journalist was detained in March while on a reporting trip to the city of Yekaterinburg, about 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) east of Moscow, and a judge ruled in August that he must stay in jail until the end of November.
The court proceedings are closed because prosecutors say details of the criminal case are classified.
Russia’s Federal Security Service alleged Gershkovich, “acting on the instructions of the American side, collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex.”
Gershkovich and the Journal deny the allegations, and the U.S. government has declared him to be wrongfully detained. Russian authorities haven’t detailed any evidence to support the espionage charges.
He is being held at Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, notorious for its harsh conditions. Gershkovich is the first American reporter to face espionage charges in Russia since 1986, when Nicholas Daniloff, a Moscow correspondent for U.S. News and World Report, was arrested by the KGB.
Analysts have pointed out that Moscow may be using jailed Americans as bargaining chips after U.S.-Russian tensions soared when Russia sent troops into Ukraine. At least two U.S. citizens arrested in Russia in recent years — including WNBA star Brittney Griner — have been exchanged for Russians jailed in the U.S.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has said it will consider a swap for Gershkovich only after a verdict in his trial. In Russia, espionage trials can last for more than a year.