Evan Gershkovich: Detained US reporter to stand trial in Russia on espionage charges

Evan Gershkovich: Detained US reporter to stand trial in Russia on espionage charges

The US journalist Evan Gershkovich will stand trial in Russia on espionage charges, Russian prosecutors have said.

Mr Gershkovich has been jailed for over a year in Russia on espionage charges, which have been widely condemned as baseless in the West.

The Wall Street Journal reporter is due to stand trial in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg, where he was detained, authorities said Thursday.

The 32-year-old is accused of "gathering secret information" on orders from the CIA about Uralvagonzavod, a facility in the Sverdlovsk region that produces and repairs military equipment, Russian officials said.

The White House has sought to negotiate his release, but Russia's Foreign Ministry said Moscow would consider a prisoner swap only after a verdict in his trial.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Gershkovich was detained while on a reporting trip to Yekaterinburg in March 2023 and accused of spying for the United States. 

Washington has designated him as wrongfully detained.

“Russia's latest move toward a sham trial is, while expected, deeply disappointing and still no less outrageous," said Emma Tucker, the Wall Street Journal's editor in chief.

She added the accusations were "false and baseless."

"The Russian regime's smearing of Evan is repugnant, disgusting and based on calculated and transparent lies,” she said in a statement.

“Journalism is not a crime. Evan's case is an assault on free press. We had hoped to avoid this moment and now expect the U.S. government to redouble efforts to get Evan released."

Putin has said he believed a deal could be reached to free Gershkovich, hinting he would be open to swapping him for a Russian national imprisoned in Germany, which appeared to be Vadim Krasikov.

He was serving a life sentence for the 2019 killing in Berlin of a Georgian citizen of Chechen descent.

Mr Gershkovich faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

He has been held at Moscow's Lefortovo Prison, a notorious czarist-era prison used during Josef Stalin's purges, when executions were carried out in its basement.