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Russia sets a date to start the trial of Evan Gershkovich

A Russian court said Monday that the espionage trial of imprisoned American journalist Evan Gershkovich will begin next week and the proceedings will be held behind closed doors.

The first hearing, scheduled for June 26, will take place nearly 15 months after Mr. Gershkovich, 32, was arrested by security agents in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, about 10 miles from Moscow. 900 miles east. After more than a year in a high-security prison in Moscow, Mr. Gershkovich, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, will likely be transferred to Yekaterinburg to stand trial.

Mr. Gershkovich, who worked in Russia as a journalist for various publications for more than five years before his arrest, has been denied by his employer and the U.S. government. The State Department does Appointed Mr. Gershkovich EQUAL “unlawfully detained,” this forces it to work effectively to free him safely.

The announcement of the trial date represents an important step in Mr. Gershkovich’s legal case, which is continuing in parallel with negotiations between Russian and American security agencies for possible exchanges.

Russian authorities have suggested that they may be willing to exchange prisoners for Mr. Gershkovich, but only after a verdict is handed down in his case. According to lawyers who have worked on such cases, an espionage trial usually takes about four months in Russia but can take up to a year.

Last week, Russian prosecutors said they had espionage indictment completed against Mr. Gershkovich. They said that “on CIA instructions” and “using meticulous plotting methods,” Mr. Gershkovich “collected secret information” about a factory in the region that produced tanks and other weapons. Sverdlovsk.

The prosecutors’ statement is the first time Russian state representatives have revealed details of the charges against Mr. Gershkovich. But it lacks evidence to support the allegations.

Held behind closed doors, the trial is unlikely to shed further light on his case.

According to a statement from the court, the trial will be heard by Andrei N. Mineev, judge of the Sverdlovsk regional court in Yekaterinburg. In a 2021 interview with a Russian news site, Mr. Mineev said he had only resulted in about four acquittals in his decades-long career. If convicted, Mr. Gershkovich faces up to 20 years in prison.

The Wall Street Journal issued a statement last week predicting a “sham trial.”

Mr. Gershkovich is one of a number of American citizens detained in Russia in recent years, and his case has raised concerns that the Kremlin is seeking to use American citizens as bargaining chips in exchange for Russians detained in the West.

Other Americans held in Russia include Paul Whelana United States Marine Corps veteran; Alsu Kurmasheva, editor working for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; And Marc Fogel, an American teacher at the Anglo-American School in Moscow, who in 2022 was sentenced to 14 years in prison for drug smuggling. Last week a Russian court sentenced Yuri Malev, a Russian and American national, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison after criticizing Russia, its leadership and its war in Ukraine on social media.


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