Lawyers for Evan Gershkovich Seek to Visit Journalist Jailed in Moscow

Lawyers for Evan Gershkovich Seek to Visit Journalist Jailed in Moscow

Lawyers for Evan Gershkovich were seeking to visit the jailed Wall Street Journal reporter on Tuesday, nearly a week after Russian authorities arrested him on allegations he was involved in espionage, a charge the Journal vehemently denies.

Under Russian law, defendants are guaranteed a defense lawyer and regular contact with their legal team. But Russian authorities sometimes block access and make communication difficult.

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Russian authorities have told Mr. Gershkovich’s lawyers that they will be allowed to meet him on Tuesday afternoon at Moscow’s Lefortovo prison. Representatives from the American Embassy were not given consular access to Mr. Gershkovich.

The US government has demanded Mr. Gershkovich’s immediate release. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that Mr. Gershkovich’s case is “a priority for this president. It is a priority for the National Security Council. It’s a priority for the State Department.”

The newspaper called the arrest of Mr. Gershkovich “an outrageous affront to a free press” and said it “should incite outrage in all free people and governments around the world. No reporter should ever be banned for simply doing his job.”

In the initial session on Thursday after the detention of Mr. Gershkovich during a reporting trip to Yekaterinburg, he was represented by a court-appointed lawyer. A lawyer seeking to represent him was barred from entering the courtroom.

On Monday, members of a state-sponsored prison monitoring committee said Mr. Gershkovich had been visited and that he “reported no complaints.” The newspaper could not independently verify the committee’s statement.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the US is seeking immediate consular access to Mr Gershkovich so it can provide appropriate support. In a phone call on Sunday, Mr. Blinken conveyed his “great concern” to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and pressed for the release of Mr. Gershkovich.

In an interview with CNN on Thursday, former Vice President Mike Pence called on the Biden administration to expel Russian diplomats from the US.

European governments and the head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have denounced Mr. Gershkovich’s arrest.

A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Monday that Britain was standing by the US “We fully support the democratic principles that are at play here,” the spokesman said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that the arrest was of great concern.

Photo: Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images

“It is important to respect the freedom of the press, the rights of journalists and the rights to ask questions and do their work,” he said.

It can often be difficult to gain access to people detained in Russia.

American basketball star Brittney Griner, who was detained at a Moscow airport on February 17, 2022, made her first known court appearance on March 18. At the time, her Russian lawyer said she had been denied access to a lawyer and consular visits.

An American diplomat was granted access to see the athlete on March 23. Ms Griner, who was convicted of drug charges by a Russian court last August and sentenced to nine years in a penal colony, was released in a prisoner swap in December.

On Sunday, Ms. Griner called on the Biden administration to use “every means” to bring Mr. Gershkovich home.

Write Ann M. Simmons at [email protected]

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