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U.S. envoy pays first visit to WSJ reporter Gershkovich in Moscow prison By Reuters

© Reuters. U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy stands in a court building during a hearing of the case of Russian opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza, who is accused of treason and of discrediting the Russian army, in Moscow, Russia, April 17, 2023. REUTERS/Maxi

(Reuters) -U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy on Monday said she had made her first visit to jailed Wall Street reporter Evan Gershkovich, who Moscow arrested two weeks ago on charges of spying.

“He feels well and is holding up. We reiterate our call for Evan’s immediate release,” Tracy said in a statement in Russian on Telegram.

Gershkovich, who was hired by the Wall Street Journal shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine last year, was arrested last month in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg. It is the first time since 1986 that an American reporter has been held for alleged espionage in Russia.

His newspaper has rejected the charge, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. The White House has called it “ridiculous”, and President Joe Biden has said Gershkovich’s detention is “totally illegal”.

Tracy did not say how long she had spent with the reporter in Moscow’s Lefortovo pre-trial detention centre. The visit took place on the eve of a court hearing that is due to consider Gershkovich’s appeal against his detention.

In Washington, the White House said it hopes to get regular consular access to Gershkovich. “It was good to get to see him today and again we want to make sure we can continue to do that,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said.

The FSB security service has accused Gershkovich of collecting state secrets about Russia’s military-industrial complex. The Kremlin says he was “caught red-handed” but has not published any evidence to support that claim.

The United States last week designated Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained”, in effect saying that the spy charges were bogus and the case was political.

The top U.S. hostage envoy has pledged to do “whatever it takes” to bring home Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, an American ex-Marine who was convicted of espionage in 2020 and has also been designated by Washington as wrongfully detained.


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