Russian Court Denies Evan Gershkovich's Latest Appeal

AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Same song, different verse. American journalist Evan Gershkovich is sitting in a Russian prison cell on charges of espionage. 

Evan's appeal was rejected today in a Russian court. That's the bad news. The good news, if we can believe it is true, is that Russian officials claim that confidential discussions are being conducted about prisoner exchanges between Washington, D.C., and Moscow. 


Gershkovich is 32 years old. He was detained over a year ago while on a reporting trip to the city of Yekaterinburg. He is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal based at their Moscow bureau. He is a U.S. citizen. Evan is the first reporter imprisoned in Russia since the end of the Cold War. 

The rejection of his appeal on Tuesday means he will be held behind bars until at least June 30. There is still no trial date set, though he has been held for over a year. 

The State Department has declared Evan as wrongfully detained. This designation commits the U.S. government to work for his release. He is being held on an allegation of espionage. Evan, the Wall Street Journal, and the U.S. government deny Evan is a spy.

After a closed-door hearing in Moscow at the First Appeals Court of General Jurisdiction, the judge addressed Gershkovich. 

“Evan Gershkovich, do you understand the decision made by the court and the procedure and deadline for appealing it?” the judge asked.

“All clear,” Gershkovich replied.

A U.K. publication reports that Evan looked relaxed and gave a thumbs-up to his legal team.

In the courtroom on Tuesday, brave Gerhskovich, wearing a white T-shirt and an open checked shirt, looked relaxed, at times laughing and chatting with members of his legal team.

He gave a heroic thumbs up as he appeared behind a glass screen for his latest appeal to be rejected with no date set for a trial.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a bipartisan resolution last week that demands Evan be let go. It calls him a "trailblazing and intrepid journalist. President Biden said the United States is working "around the clock" to bring Evan and other "Americans being unjustly detained all around the world” home.


Unfortunately for Evan and others, the Biden administration doesn't seem to be working around the clock on any issue. Biden has spent 40% of his time during his term in the White House spending weekends at one of his mansions in Delaware or at Camp David. Joe Biden and his State Department don't have a good record of bringing American citizens home. After the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, it seems the Biden Doctrine is to go ahead and leave Americans behind.

Earlier this month, Roger Carstens, the U.S.’s special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, said a new U.S. proposal to Moscow was in the works to secure the release of Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, the only other American deemed by the U.S. to be wrongfully detained in Russia.

Whelan, a former Marine and corporate-security executive, is serving a 16-year sentence on an espionage charge that he, his family and the U.S. government deny.

It has been reported for months that agreements for prisoner swaps are being negotiated. It was rumored at the time that WNBA player Brittney Griner was released in a prisoner swap that Paul Whelan would also be released. That didn't happen. Griner was swapped for one of the world's most notorious arms traffickers. 

Another American citizen who is a journalist is being detained in Russia. Alsu Kurmasheva, a duel U.S.-Russian citizen, works for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, based in Prague. She is charged with spreading false information. She was in Russia visiting her mother, who was ill. She was also charged with failing to register as a foreign agent. The false information charge comes from a book she helped edit about Russia's military. 


The WSJ released a brief statement.

“It continues to be outrageous that Evan has been wrongfully detained by the Russian government for more than a year,” the Journal said in a statement after the ruling. “Evan’s freedom is long overdue, and we urge the administration to do everything in their power to secure his release.”

Russians have not presented any evidence to justify Evan's detention. Biden's weakness on the world stage is dangerous for Americans overseas. Putin is acting with impunity because he knows he can. 

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