US journalist seeks extension of detention over spying charges


MOSCOW (AP) Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovic has filed an appeal seeking a three-month extension to his detention on espionage charges, the Russian court data website reported .

Gershkovic, a 31-year-old US citizen, was arrested in March while on a news trip to Russia. He, his employer and the US government have denied the allegations. A Moscow court on Tuesday extended his detention until August 30. The appeal was filed on Thursday, according to the court’s website. There was no information on whether a hearing had been scheduled.

Gerskovic’s case was kept secret. Russian authorities have not disclosed what evidence, if any, they have collected to support the spying allegations.

Various lawsuits related to this matter have been closed to the media. The state-run TASS news agency said Tuesday’s hearing was held behind closed doors on suspicion that a reporter was in possession of “classified materials.”

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday night that the parents of Gerszkovic, a Soviet exile living in New Jersey, traveled to Moscow to meet their son during a brief hearing.

“I don’t know how to express this happiness and this sadness at the same time,” the newspaper quoted the reporter’s mother, Ella Millman. Gershkovic looked relaxed and healthy, she said, and was able to communicate with a smile.

The U.S. State Department said at least one U.S. embassy official was present at the hearing.

Gershkovic’s arrest unsettled journalists in the country and sparked outrage in the West as well. The US government declared Gerszkovic illegally imprisoned and demanded his immediate release. He is being held in Lefortovo Prison in Moscow.

Since his arrest in Yekaterinburg on March 29, U.S. embassy officials have been allowed one visit with the imprisoned Mr. Gerszkovic, but Russian authorities have denied two more recent visit requests.