Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

A SHAM trial has been set for falsely jailed reporter Evan Gershkovich who has spent 442 days behind bars in Russia on bogus charges of espionage.

The innocent American, 32, has been wrongly accused by Vladimir Putin’s crooks of collecting “secret information” for the CIA.

AFPEvan Gershkovich pictured in April looking defiant after over a year suffering in pre-trial detention[/caption]

ReutersThe WSJ reporter is facing baseless accusations of espionage[/caption]

Gershkovich will stand trial in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg, authorities announced today.

The Wall Street Journal reporter is accused of acting on “instructions from the CIA” to gather “secret information” about Uralvagonzavod, a military facility in the Sverdlovsk region.

It is the first time authorities have announced the details of the accusations against Gershkovich.

Moscow had previously not provided any public details of its case against Gershkovich, saying only that he was “caught red-handed”.

There was no word on when the trial would begin.

The prosecutor’s office said Gershkovich’s indictment had now been finalised following an investigation by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

The US journalist was detained by the FSB on March 29, 2023, while on a reporting trip to Yekaterinburg, 870 miles east of Moscow,

But Russian officials have not provided any evidence to back up their false claims.

Both Gershkovich and the Journal vehemently deny the allegations, while Washington declares him wrongfully detained.

He is the first Western reporter to be jailed on espionage charges in Russia since the Soviet era, and he faces a prison term of up to 20 years if convicted.

The US citizen has repeatedly launched appeals to secure his freedom – all have so far been rejected.

Since his arrest, Gershkovich has been held at Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo Prison, the Soviet-era’s most prominent prison used during Joseph Stalin’s purges.

Despite the grim conditions, at each court appearance Gershkovich has smiled defiantly and appeared in good spirits.

Putin, 71, has publicly hinted he would be open to swapping him for a Russian national imprisoned in Germany, which is assumed to be Vadim Krasikov.

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

But Russia’s Foreign Ministry has said it would consider a prisoner swap only after a verdict in his trial.

US Ambassador Lynne Tracy, who regularly visited Gershkovich in prison and attended his court hearings, has called the charges against him “fiction”.

Washington has repeatedly accused Moscow of arresting US citizens in a bid to use them as pawns to secure the release of Russians jailed abroad for serious crimes.

Since sending troops to Ukraine, Russia has detained several US nationals and other Westerners, seemingly bolstering that idea.

Timeline of Gershkovich’s detainment

FALSELY jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has been detained on baseless accusations of espionage since March, 2023.

Here is a timeline of key events:

Day 1: March 29, 2023 – Gershkovich, who was an approved journalist working in Russia, was arrested on a reporting trip to the Urals.

Russia’s security service, the FSB, charged him with espionage – a charge that he, the WSJ and the US government deny.

They argue – without evidence – that he collected “information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex.”

Day 12: April 10, 2023 – The US designated Gershkovich wrongfully detained and launched effort on Russia to free him.

Day 20: April 18, 2023 – A Moscow court upheld his pre-trial detention, denied him bail and ordered him to be held in the capital’s infamous Lefortovo prison.

Day 55: May 23, 2023 – Gershkovich’s detention was extended until at least August 30.

His parents, Ella Milman and Mikhail Gershkovich, travelled to the hearing and said “any parents who loves their kid would travel to the end of the world to be with them for give minutes.”

Day 76: June 13, 2023 – The White House called on Russia to immediately free Gershkovich and also free former US marine Paul Whelan, who was convicted of espionage in 2020.

Day 85: June 22, 2023 – A Moscow court upheld the extension of Gershkovich’s detention until at least August 30.

Day 100: July 7, 2023 – The world’s press stood for solidarity with the reporter as his shameful detention reached 100 days.

Day 174: September, 19, 2023 – Gershkovich had another appeal for freedom blocked.

Day 195: October 10, 2023 – The US reporter had yet another appeal denied which would see his detention extended until at least November 30.

Day 244: November 28, 2023 – A court ruled Gershkovich would remain in pre-trial detention until at least January 30.

Day 303: January 26, 2024 – The innocent journalist’s time behind bars was extended until the end of March.

Day 316: February 8, 2024 – Vladimir Putin tells US TV host Tucker Carlson a deal could be reached between Russia and the US over Gershkovich.

Day 363: March 26, 2024: Gershkovich’s detention will drag on until June 30 as he nears one year behind bars.

Day 442: June 13, 2024: Russian authorities announce he will stand trial over bogus accusations that the reporter was spying for the CIA

Outside the entrance to Lefortovo prison where he is being held – known for housing political dissidents

Putin said he hopes to find a ‘solution’ despite his cronies rejecting the reporter’s repeated appeals for freedom

Russian authorities have failed to provide any evidence against the US journalist

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