Russian court rejects detention appeal by WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich

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April 23 (UPI) -- A Russian court has rejected Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich's latest appeal over his detainment at a Moscow prison, as he awaits trial in an espionage case that he and the United States claim is false.

Gershkovich, who smiled and gave a thumbs-up Tuesday from inside a glass defendant's box in the courtroom, has been detained at Moscow's Lefortovo Prison for more than a year after he was arrested during a reporting trip, despite being accredited by Russia's Foreign Ministry.

Gershkovich, 32, is the first American reporter to be held in Russia on accusations of espionage since the Cold War. His detention was extended last month, with little explanation, until at least June 30.

On Tuesday, the First Appeals Court of General Jurisdiction in Moscow upheld a lower court's decision to keep Gershkovich in custody.

"Evan Gershkovich, do you understand the decision made by the court and the procedure and deadline for appealing it?" the judge asked.

"All clear," Gershkovich replied.

"It continues to be outrageous that Evan has been wrongfully detained by the Russian government for more than a year," The Wall Street Journal said in a statement after Tuesday's ruling. "Evan's freedom is long overdue, and we urge the administration to do everything in their power to secure his release."

Last month on the first anniversary of Gershkovich's arrest, President Joe Biden said the government was "working every day" to secure his freedom.

"Journalism is not a crime and Evan went to Russia to do his job as a reporter -- risking his safety to shine the light of truth on Russia's brutal aggression against Ukraine," Biden said in a White House statement on March 29.

Russia has accused Gershkovich of spying for the U.S. government while he was on assignment in Yekaterinburg, which is about 1,000 miles east of Moscow. The Wall Street Journal and the U.S. State Department have denied the charges.