WSJ News Reporter E Gershkovich Allowed Visit From US Official

WSJ News Reporter E Gershkovich Allowed Visit From US Official ameridaily

WSJ News says a visit to Mr. Gershkovich at Moscow’s Lefortovo prison comes the day before a court in the Russian capital is scheduled to hear an appeal on his detention, nearly three weeks after the journalist was arrested for espionage, an allegation the Journal and the U.S. government vehemently deny.

The Moscow City Court could uphold Mr. Gershkovich’s continued pretrial detention in Lefortovo, order him moved to another jail, allow his house arrest, or grant him bail. Mr. Gershkovich is in pretrial detention until May 29, although Russian authorities can extend that period.

The State Department officially classified Mr. Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained” a week ago and President Biden has called his detention “totally illegal.”

The press bureau of Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service told the state news agency TASS that Mr. Gershkovich “didn’t complain about his health or the conditions in the pretrial detention center” to the U.S. ambassador, the agency reported.

More than 40 countries have signed on to a statement criticizing Russia over Mr. Gershkovich’s detention and protesting Russia’s moves to intimidate the media reported WSJ News.

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The statement, which the U.S. helped circulate at the United Nations, calls on Moscow to “release those they hold on political grounds, and to end the draconian crackdown on freedom of expression, including against members of the media.”

The 31-year-old reporter, who is a U.S. citizen, was detained on March 29 while on a reporting trip inside Russia. He was accredited to work as a journalist in Russia by the country’s Foreign Ministry at the time of his detention.

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the countries that signed the statement are “calling on Russia to immediately release Evan Gershkovich.”

“Let this statement send a clear message: Journalism is not a crime,” she told the Journal before the statement was released Monday.

U.N. officials linked the statement, expected to be announced Monday, to the 30th World Press Freedom Day celebration on May 3. Allowing journalists to do their job is part of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Russia has signed on to, they said.

On Monday, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola also urged the release of Mr. Gershkovich as she opened the legislature’s latest plenary session in Strasbourg, France, saying his detention was a “line that should not have been crossed.”

Media organizations say press freedom is under attack in many parts of the world. So far, most signatories to the statement about Mr. Gershkovich are European nations or highly industrialized U.S. allies including Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan and South Korea.