Russian prosecutors completed the indictment against Evan Gershkovich

Russian prosecutors on Thursday announced a major step in the case against imprisoned American journalist Evan Gershkovich, saying they had completed the espionage indictment against him and he would be charged. trial in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, where he was arrested. over a year ago.

Yevgeny Smirnov, a Russian lawyer who has worked on similar cases, said Mr. Gershkovich, 32, should be transferred from Moscow’s notorious high-security Lefortovo prison to stand trial in a city far from the capital. Russia is about 880 miles east. .

When such espionage cases go to trial in Russia, they usually take about four months but can be up to a year, and they are often inaccessible, Mr. Smirnov said in a telephone interview. with the media. If convicted, Mr. Gershkovich, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, faces up to 20 years in prison.

Mr. Gershkovich, his employer and the U.S. government have denied the charges against him. The US government has designated Mr. Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained,” which essentially means they consider him a political prisoner.

Russian authorities have previously suggested that they might be willing to exchange prisoners for Mr. Gershkovich, but only after a verdict is made in his case.

Speaking last week at a meeting with representatives of international news agencies, President Vladimir V. Putin speak that Russian and American intelligence agencies were “in touch on this issue.”

“These issues must definitely be resolved on the basis of reciprocity,” Mr. Putin said, referring to any potential prisoner exchange involving Mr. Gershkovich.

The detention of Mr. Gershkovich, the first American journalist to be arrested on espionage charges since the end of the Cold War, has highlighted the extent to which Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has damaged relations between Moscow and Washington. .

IN statementprosecutors said they had determined that “at the direction of the CIA” and “using meticulous conspiracy methods,” Mr. Gershkovich “was gathering secret information” about a tank factory and other weapons in the Sverdlovsk region.

The prosecutors’ statement marks the first time Russian state representatives have revealed details of the charges against Mr. Gershkovich. The statement did not provide any evidence to support the allegations.

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

“Evan Gershkovich is facing false and baseless charges,” the statement said. “Russia’s latest move toward a sham trial, while expected, is deeply disappointing and equally infuriating. Evan was unjustly detained for 441 days in a Russian prison just for doing his job.”

“The Russian regime’s smearing of Evan is repugnant, abhorrent and based on calculated and transparent lies,” the statement added.

According to Mr. Smirnov, Russian security agencies determine what constitutes classified material and what does not in such cases. The defense has no way to challenge their assertions, he said.

“We clearly understand that he is in prison to be exchanged,” Mr. Smirnov said, referring to Mr. Gershkovich. He added that depending on secret negotiations on a possible prisoner exchange, the trial could be expedited to reach a verdict sooner.

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.

Others included Paul Whelana former United States Marine, and Alsu Kurmasheva, editor working for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Last week a Russian court sentenced Yuri Malev, a Russian-American, 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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