30 Mar 2023 16:00

Court in Moscow arrests WSJ correspondent Gershkovich on counts of espionage

MOSCOW. March 30 (Interfax) - Moscow's Lefortovsky District Court has granted investigators' motion and issued an arrest warrant for Evan Gershkovich, the correspondent of The Wall Street Journal (WSJ)'s Moscow bureau detained on espionage counts, the court press service told Interfax on Thursday.

"The court ruling on Gershkovich: the court has ordered [his] arrest until May 29, 2023," the press service said.

It noted that Gershkovich was suspected of spying.

Gershkovich is facing up to 20 years of incarceration.

He is due to be put in the Lefortovo detention facility and quarantined before being transferred to the general population block.

By Russian law, an investigator may ask the court to extend the arrest if he fails to finalize the inquiry within the given time.

Lawyer Daniil Berman, who appeared in court, said he had a contract for Gershkovich's defense. He also told reporters that he had not joined the proceeding just yet and was unable to attend the hearing.

The public relations center of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) earlier reported the detention of Gershkovich, a U.S. citizen born in 1991.

According to the FSB, Gershkovich, "acting on the orders of the U.S., was gathering information about a Russian defense plant that constitutes a state secret."

"The American was detained in Yekaterinburg while trying to obtain secret information," it said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said later that Gershkovich had been "caught red-handed."