Evan Gershkovich’s espionage trial to be held behind closed doors from 26 June



Wall Street Journal correspondent Evan Gershkovich’s trial for espionage is to be held behind closed doors from 26 June, the Yekaterinburg court overseeing his case announced on Monday.

The news follows last week’s decision to move the trial to the Sverdlovsk Regional Court in the city of Yekaterinburg in Russia’s Urals, where he was arrested in March 2023 while researching a story on the Wagner mercenary group for the Wall Street Journal.

Since his arrest, Gershkovich has spent over a year in pretrial detention in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo prison, which is under the de facto control of the Russian security services. The authorities maintain that he was spying for the CIA and attempting to collect state secrets.

The court’s statement said Gershkovich would be tried for espionage for having collected “classified information” on the Sverdlovsk region’s Uralvagonzavod enterprise, one of the world’s largest battle tank manufacturers.

If found guilty, Gershkovich faces up to 20 years in prison.

The Wall Street Journal, the US Department of State and Gershkovich’s legal team have all categorically rejected the accusations against him, with US Ambassador to Moscow Lynne Tracy calling them “fiction” in March.

“Evan’s case is not about evidence, due process, or rule of law. It is about using American citizens as pawns to achieve political ends”, Tracy said.

In April 2023, Bloomberg reported that Gershkovich’s arrest had been personally approved by Vladimir Putin. In a February interview with US TV host Tucker Carlson, Putin raised the possibility of exchanging Gershkovich for former FSB colonel Vadim Krasikov, who is currently serving a life sentence in a German prison for the murder of a Chechen dissident.

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