A Moscow court on Tuesday rejected an appeal of the detention of Wall Street Journal reporter and Bowdoin graduate Evan Gershkovich, meaning he will remain imprisoned until at least until the end of November.
The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested Gershkovich on espionage charges in March of this year in Yekaterinburg, alleging that the Journal reporter was attempting to obtain classified information.
The 31-year-old reporter, his family, the WSJ, and the U.S. government have denied the spying allegations, declaring Gershkovich to be wrongfully detained.
“It has now been more than six months since Evan’s unjust arrest, and we are outraged that he continues to be wrongfully detained,” the WSJ wrote in a statement Tuesday. “The accusation against him is categorically false, and we call for his immediate release.”
Tuesday’s hearing was to appeal an August decision to prolong Gershkovich’s detention by three months.
He is being held at the Lefortovo prison in Moscow — a prison infamous for being used by Joseph Stalin’s secret police for mass executions and torture.
Gershkovich, who graduated Bowdoin College in 2014, appeared in the Moscow court Tuesday morning wearing a T-shirt and jeans, and smiled at members of the media from inside a glass defendant’s cage.
Judge Yuri Pasyunin at Moscow City court ruled Tuesday to keep Gershkovich imprisoned until at least Nov. 30.
“We are deeply disappointed the appeal of his detention extension was again rejected,” the U.S. Embassy in Russia said in a social media statement Tuesday. “Evan should be released.”
Charge d’Affaires from the U.S. Embassy in Russia Stephanie Holmes attended the hearing.
In September, the Gershkovich family filed a petition with the United Nations to declare that Russia’s imprisonment of the WSJ correspondent is wrong and unlawful.
“Our thoughts are with our son, Evan, as he endures this difficult time in Russian prison,” his father, Mikhail Gershkovich, said in September. “We know he is strong, but the past several months have been a nightmare for our family. It has also been trying for Evan’s many friends and colleagues. We hate to think of what Evan is going through, simply for doing his job.”
U.S. Ambassador the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that they are working “around the clock” to have Evan, as well as others who have been wrongfully detained, released.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has said it will consider a prisoner swap for Gershkovich only after a verdict in reached in his trial.
A conviction on espionage charges could result in a 20 year prison sentence for Gershkovich.
“They’re not willing to really talk to us about him yet,” Roger Carstens, the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs at the State Department, told CBS News in July. “The Russians might play this out in a long, drawn-out trial process. And after a conviction, if he is convicted, I assume he will be, it’ll be time to negotiate his release.”