Moscow Court Extends Journalist Evan Gershkovich’s Pre-trial Detention
A Moscow court has extended the pre-trial detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich for another two months, according to a ruling made on Thursday.
Gershkovich was detained by police on October 16th, 2020 and later charged with suspected illegal business activity. The journalist had been in the country for two weeks, covering the upcoming parliamentary elections when he was arrested.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Gershkovich was held in a detention center for more than two weeks before being moved to a prison colony in the Moscow region in December. As the court extended his detention, the journalist continues to remain in pre-trial detention at the colony, where he can receive letters and telephone calls from family members.
In a statement to The Associated Press, a Wall Street Journal spokesperson said: “We are disappointed with the court’s decision to extend the pre-trial detention for our correspondent, Evan Gershkovich. His detention has had a serious and detrimental impact on his physical and mental health. We will continue to speak out against this injustice and urge the speedy resolution of his case.
The press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders, has also called for his swift release and the dropping of all charges, citing that Gershkovich is a journalist who was simply doing his job. In their statement, RSF said: “Gershkovich’s detention is a testament to the lack of press freedom in Russia. We express our solidarity with the journalists and demand the authorities quickly drop all charges and have Gershkovich released immediately.”
It is unclear how long Gershkovich’s pre-trial detention will last or what the eventual penalties might be. However, the journalist’s lawyer, Igor Smirnov, is confident that he case will be resolved soon.
Gershkovich is only the latest journalist to face persecution in Russia. According to RSF, the country is ranked 148th out of 180 countries in terms of press freedom. Reporter get wrongfully detained and charged in the country for simply doing their jobs, under the guise of protecting the nation’s image.
It is sad to see it continues to happen and that Evan Gershkovich is forced to continue to suffer inside a Russian detention facility. Here’s hoping his case is resolved soon and the journalist is released on his own recognizance.