Evan Gershkovich remains strong after year in Moscow prison, U.S. envoy says

FILE PHOTO: Moscow court hears appeal by WSJ reporter Gershkovich

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is holding up well despite spending nearly a year in a Moscow prison, the U.S. embassy said after ambassador Lynne Tracy visited him on Thursday.

Gershkovich, now 32, was arrested on March 29 last year in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg and accused by the FSB security service of trying to obtain defence secrets. He, his paper and the U.S. government have all strongly denied he is a spy.

"Next week marks a year since his unlawful detention by the Russian authorities. Evan remains strong and resilient, but it is a tragedy that he is awaiting trial for a crime he did not commit," the U.S. embassy said in a post in Russian on its Telegram channel.

Gershkovich has failed in repeated appeals against his detention in Moscow's Lefortovo prison while awaiting trial for espionage, a charge that carries a sentence of up to 20 years.

Washington has pledged to do "whatever it takes" to bring home Gershkovich and ex-Marine Paul Whelan, convicted in 2020 and serving 16 years in a Russian penal colony on spying charges that he too denies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Gershkovich could be released at some point in exchange for a Russian prisoner held abroad, but no such deal has so far materialised.

(Reporting by Reuters, writing by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Jon Boyle)