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Evan Gershkovich’s sister says ordeal for his family is painful and getting harder 250 days into detention

American Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has now been detained in Russia for 250 days and the ordeal for his family is “painful” and “getting harder” as they await progress on his release, his sister Danielle told CNN on Monday.

“It’s now been almost or over eight months since he’s been imprisoned. And he’s missed out on so much. And we dearly miss him, but we have to stay strong and just keep fighting for Evan,” Danielle Gershkovich told Jim Sciutto on CNN Newsroom on Max.

Gershkovich was arrested in March while on a reporting trip in the country. The FSB, Russia’s main security service, accused him of trying to obtain state secrets – a charge Gershkovich, his employer and the US government have strenuously denied.

If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Soon after his arrest, the US State Department officially declared Gershkovich wrongfully detained by Russia, stating, “Journalism is not a crime. We condemn the Kremlin’s continued repression of independent voices in Russia, and its ongoing war against the truth.”

Just last week a Moscow court ruled to extend his pre-trial detention for a third time until January 30.

The US Embassy in Moscow said it was “deeply concerned” by the court’s decision.

Danielle Gershkovich says she and her family are able to communicate with Evan by letter while he’s in prison, adding that they’ve been amazed by his strength behind bars.

“I think he’s just a really special person. I don’t think anyone could do what he’s doing,” she said, adding that in his letters, “he works very, very hard to keep his spirits up and in the letters we tease each other a lot. We do a lot of jokes there.”

With the holidays approaching, they are now asking Americans to honor Evan by keeping a seat empty at meals.

“This is a time of year where a lot of people are missing their loved ones,” she added. “And so it’s a lot to ask, but we ask that people save a seat for Evan at their dinner table around the holidays, which we did at Thanksgiving recently.”

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