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Evan Gershkovich’s Espionage Trial in Yekaterinburg: Detained U.S. Journalist Denies CIA Spying Allegations

Evan Gershkovich
Evan Gershkovich

After being held for 14 months since his arrest while working for the Wall Street Journal, U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich is now on trial in Yekaterinburg. He’s accused of spying for the CIA by collecting secret information on a Russian tank maker, charges denied by the WSJ and U.S. government.

The trial started privately, with Gershkovich in good spirits but not speaking publicly from inside a defendant’s enclosure known as “the aquarium.”

The Federal Security Service’s indictment alleges that Gershkovich operated under CIA directives, employing secretive methods to obtain sensitive data about Uralvagonzavod, a defense contractor in Yekaterinburg.

The proceedings are expected to extend over several months, with the trial adjourned until August 13. Access to the courtroom is restricted, allowing only Gershkovich’s defense team inside, and he has had limited contact with consular officials during his detention.

Evan Gershkovich

Evan Gershkovich

Criticism of the trial has been widespread. Deborah Ball from the WSJ condemned it as a sham lacking due process, citing Russia’s low acquittal rates and the closed nature of the trial. Despite claims by Russian authorities, no substantial evidence has been presented against Gershkovich.

Friends and colleagues, including Pjotr Sauer of The Guardian, describe Gershkovich as a dedicated journalist without any basis for the accusations leveled against him.

Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested the possibility of a prisoner exchange involving Gershkovich, acknowledging ongoing negotiations between intelligence services but providing no further details due to their sensitive nature.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed the existence of such discussions but declined further comment. The trial’s progress remains closely watched amid international concerns about press freedom and diplomatic tensions between Russia and the West.

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