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Spy trial in Russia of Wall Street Journal reporter set for June 26

RUSSIA’S espionage trial of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich will begin on June 26 and will be held behind closed doors, a court statement said today.

Mr Gershkovich, a United States citizen, has been behind bars since his March 2023 arrest and faces 20 years in prison if convicted.

The trial is to be held in the Sverdlovsky regional court in Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city, where he was arrested. 

Mr Gershkovich is accused of “gathering secret information” on orders from the CIA about Uralvagonzavod, a facility that produces and repairs military equipment, the Prosecutor General’s office said last week.

The reporter, his employer and the US government have denied the allegations.

Russia’s Federal Security Service alleged that Mr Gershkovich was acting on US orders to collect state secrets.

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said last week: “Evan has done nothing wrong. He should never have been arrested in the first place. Journalism is not a crime. 

“The charges against him are false. And the Russian government knows that they’re false. He should be released immediately.”

The White House has sought to negotiate the release of Mr Gershkovich, but Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that Moscow would consider a prisoner swap only after a trial verdict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told international news agencies earlier this month that the US is “taking energetic steps” to secure Mr Gershkovich’s release. 

He added that any such releases “aren’t decided via mass media” but through a “discreet, calm and professional approach.”

“And they certainly should be decided only on the basis of reciprocity,” he said, in an allusion to a potential prisoner swap.

Mr Gershkovich was the first US journalist taken into custody on espionage charges since Nicholas Daniloff in 1986 at the height of the cold war. 

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