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A Russian court has announced that the trial of Evan Gershkovich, an American journalist detained in Russia, is set to proceed behind closed doors later this month.

On Monday, The Sverdlovsk Regional Court stated that the initial hearing would occur on June 26 without public access. Gershkovich, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal at the time of his arrest, is charged with espionage for allegedly gathering “secret information” in March 2023 “under the direction” of the CIA.

Evan Scaled

The charges against Gershkovich, which could result in a 20-year prison sentence, accuse him of spying on military equipment production and repair at the Uralvagonzavod defense enterprise. The Wall Street Journal has vehemently denied this claim, calling the accusations “false and baseless” and describing them as “calculated and transparent lies.” Editor-in-chief Emma Tucker condemned the court’s announcement, saying, “Russia’s latest move toward a sham trial is, while expected, deeply disappointing and still no less outrageous.”

Gershkovich’s detention has been a point of contention between Russia and the United States. The White House has denounced the charges as “ridiculous,” and President Joe Biden has described the detention as “totally illegal.” Despite Gershkovich’s multiple appeals against his detention, all efforts have so far been unsuccessful.

This all comes on the same day that the Kremlin announced it was open to a possible prisoner swap for the return of Gershkovich to the United States. Previously, Putin hinted at direct talks with the U.S. regarding a deal for Gershkovich’s release but declined to provide details about each side’s demands.


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