Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who has been detained in Russia on what he, his employer and the U.S. government deem phony espionage charges since March, had an appeal for his release denied by a Moscow court Tuesday, according to reports.
The court rejected Gershkovich’s appeal against the three-month extension of his pre-trial detention following a closed hearing, Reuters reported, noting that the Russian court’s press service did not give an explanation for the decision. Gershkovich will, therefore, remain in custody until at least Nov. 30.
The 31-year-old U.S. citizen was arrested in the city of Yekaterinburg, about 1,200 miles east of Moscow, while on a reporting trip March 29.
Gershkovich has been held in Moscow’s Lefortovo pre-trial detention center, notorious for its harsh conditions, ever since. Last month, a court in Moscow extended his detention until the end of November. He and his employer deny the allegations, and the U.S. government declared him to be wrongfully detained.
According to Reuters, Russian state news agency RIA reported that his appeal Tuesday was being sent back to a lower court because of unspecified “procedural violations.”
The espionage charges could carry up to 20 years in prison, and no trial date has been set yet.
Russia’s Federal Security Service alleges 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.” Russian authorities have not provided any evidence to support the espionage charges.
Gershkovich is the first American reporter to face espionage charges in Russia since September 1986, when Nicholas Daniloff, a Moscow correspondent for U.S. News and World Report, was arrested by the KGB.
Tuesday’s court appearance comes after U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy visited Gershkovich on Friday, according to a statement from the U.S. embassy in Moscow.
The ambassador has visited Gershkovich in prison several times since his arrest, most recently in August.
Following her visit on Friday, the U.S. embassy said on X, the platform previously known as Twitter, that Gershkovich “remains strong and is keeping up with the news – including his parents’ appearance at the UN this week,” and reiterated the call to release him and another American imprisoned in Russia on espionage charges, Paul Whelan.
Tracy’s visit came a day after Gershkovich’s parents and sister appeared in the United Nation’s headquarters in New York and called on world leaders to urge Russia to free the reporter.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has previously said it would consider a swap for Gershkovich – similar to the exchange of WNBA star Brittney Griner for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout — only in the event of a verdict in his trial. In Russia, espionage investigations and trials can last for more than a year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.