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The Detention of Evan Gershkovich is Extended by a Russian Court… Again – HotAir

Mad Vlad Putin continues to poke a finger in the eye of Joe Biden. A Russian court ruled today that Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich’s detention will be extended by two months.

Make no mistake about it. This is a slap against Joe Biden and the perception of weakness that he projects to the world. Gershkovich is the first American journalist arrested in Russia and held on espionage charges since the end of the Cold War. The U.S. State Department has designated his detention as a wrongful detention. The hearing on Friday was a closed hearing at Lefortovo District Court. The Federal Security Service (FSB) requested that Evan’s detention continue until March 30 as he awaits trial. The judge granted that request. This is the fourth extension since he was taken into custody last March.

Evan, his family, and the Wall Street Journal deny he is a spy. This extension guarantees he will spend a full year in custody before he goes to trial, maybe longer. He is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal who works out of the news outlet’s Moscow bureau. He is a 32-year-old American citizen. His parents immigrated separately to the U.S. as young adults before they met and married. Evan and his sister were born in America. Evan speaks fluent Russian.

He was detained while on a reporting trip and accused of being a spy. This happened despite the fact that he is authorized to be a journalist in Russia.

The Wall Street Journal and its parent company Dow Jones released a statement after the court’s decision.

“It is chilling and outrageous that Evan has now spent 10 months of his life in prison, simply for doing his job,” the companies said. “While these are clearly sham proceedings about patently false charges, we intend to appeal today’s ruling, as we have in the past. Journalism is not a crime, and we continue to demand Evan’s immediate release.”

Representatives from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow attended the hearing. They are in agreement with Evan’s employers. They call for Evan’s immediate release. “Journalism is not a crime.”

Evan is the second American citizen being held in a Russian prison on charges of espionage. American security executive Paul Whelan, a former Marine, was convicted of espionage in 2020 and is currently serving a 16-year sentence. His family and the U.S. government insist he is not a spy.

Unfortunately for both men, and other Americans held unjustly overseas, the Biden administration does not have a strong track record for getting Americans released from detention overseas. Biden is a weak leader and does not intimidate brutal dictators like Putin. Putin is retaliating against the United States for supporting Ukraine after Putin’s invasion into that country. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month that the State Department is looking for “the right way” to work with Russia in order to accomplish the release of Evan and Whelan. I take that to mean that the Biden administration is unable or not interested enough to secure the release of wrongfully detained Americans.

Another journalist was detained in Russia recently. Last month a Russian court extended the detention of Alsu Kurmasheva, a dual U.S.-Russian citizen. She is another American journalist detained by Putin. She is based in Prague and works for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. That outlet is funded by the United States. She faces up to five years in prison if she is convicted of the charge of failing to register as a foreign agent. Her employer denies she is guilty of such a charge. Russian law requires anyone receiving funding from overseas to register as foreign agents. Her employer points out that she was not doing any reporting in Russia. She was in Russia to visit her mother, who was ill. It was a personal visit, not a professional one.

Last month, Russian authorities opened a new criminal case against Alsu. She is accused of spreading false information about Russia’s military. She could face up to 15 years in prison on that charge.

This is an election year and it is impossible to separate politics out of this situation. Putin is testing Biden on how far he can go. Putting Americans in prison on trumped-up charges is nothing new in Russia but targeting American journalists is a new leap. Putin is escalating because he feels emboldened. Biden is old and feeble and does not project strength on the world stage. I’ll continue to follow these cases. We’ll see if the State Department can figure out how to handle the situation. Hopefully Biden won’t agree to releasing another international arms dealer again in a prisoner swap for an American.

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