Home Explainer WSJ Journalist Evan Gershkovich’s Trial Will Be Held In Secret In Russia

WSJ Journalist Evan Gershkovich’s Trial Will Be Held In Secret In Russia

A few days from now, Wall Street Journal‘s reporter Evan Gershkovich‘s trial will start in an espionage case in Russia. But it will be hard to know what’s happening in the trial as it’s being held behind closed doors. The US has said it is trying to get access to the trial as well as consular access to Gershkovich but as of now there are no guarantees. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters, “It will be a high priority for us to do so (attend trial) because the safety and security of American citizens is our highest priority ultimately. We’re going to try to bring him home and try to bring Paul Whelan home, and that continues to be our overriding goal.”

The 32 year old journalist, working with WSJ, was detained by the FSB in March 2023 from the city of Yekaterinburg from a steak house. He was slapped with espionage charges that carry a prison term of 20 years. Soon after his detention, the US called for his release, rubbishing the allegations of spying.

On March 30, 2023 White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre emphatically told the media, “These espionage charges are ridiculous. The targeting of American citizens by Russian government is unacceptable. We condemn the detention of Mr. Gershkovich in the strongest terms.”

The FSB, which is the current avatar of KGB, has accused Gershkovich of trying to collect secrets for CIA, about Uralvogonzavod – a Russian defence company that is one of the world’s biggest battle tank manufacturers.

The enterprise is located in the central Urals region, a key area for Russia’s covert weapons production and research activities.

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It is a part of Rostec, Russia’s extensive defense corporation overseen by Sergei Chemezov, a close ally of Putin.

Gershkovich is the first American journalist to be held on spying charges since the Cold War ended more than three decades ago. Gershkovich has repeatedly denied the charges. Russia has claimed that Gershkovich was caught ‘red-handed’.

President Vladimir Putin recently also confirmed that the US has been in communication for a potential prisoner swap with Kremlin spokesperson once again reiterating that such arrangements are best left in silence.

Kremlin Spokesperson
Dmitri Peskov was only willing to go so far as to say, “I want to remind you once again about a talk between President (Vladimir Putin) and heads of news agencies (that took place) not so long ago in St. Petersburg. He confirmed that such contacts exist (over possible swap for Gershkovich) but they are kept and should be kept in total information silence. That is why no announcements, no statements, no information on this issue can be provided.”

Gershkovich’s family and the journalist fraternity have been pushing for his release.