Home » U.N. Panel Adds to Chorus Calling for Release of Evan Gershkovich

U.N. Panel Adds to Chorus Calling for Release of Evan Gershkovich

by ballyhooglobal.com
0 comment

Russia arbitrarily arrested the Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich to punish him for his reporting on the war in Ukraine, a United Nations panel said in a statement released on Tuesday, adding to a chorus of public condemnation of his continued detention.

In its statement, adopted in March but released on Tuesday, the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, said that Mr. Gershkovich, who appeared in a secret court hearing last week to face an espionage charge that he denies, must be released immediately.

“Mr. Gershkovich’s arrest was conducted under the pretextual label of espionage but was in fact designed to punish his reporting on the armed conflict” between Russia and Ukraine, the group said. It said that it had requested that Russia “clarify the legal provisions justifying” Mr. Gershkovich’s detention but that it did not receive a response.

In a statement, Almar Latour, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, said the group’s opinion recognized that “Russia is violating international law by imprisoning Evan for his journalism.”

The working group, consisting of legal scholars and lawyers, said that Russia has presented no “factual or legal substantiation” for the espionage charges against Mr. Gershkovich and that his legal team had been deprived “of the ability to coordinate, strategize, and advise Mr. Gershkovich regarding his rights under international law.”

It also noted that Russia failed to demonstrate sufficient reasons to justify the decision to hear Mr. Gershkovich’s case behind closed doors and that Russia restricted his rights to consular assistance.

The group has no power to force Russia to comply with its conclusions and Russian authorities did not comment on its findings. On Tuesday, the court in Yekaterinburg that is hearing the case against Mr. Gershkovich said it had received an appeal of its decision to extend his detention until Dec. 13 this year.

Mr. Gershkovich, his employer and the U.S. government have denied the charges against him. The State Department has designated Mr. Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained,” which effectively compels it to work for his safe release. The Wall Street Journal called the charges “false and baseless” and his trial a “sham.”

Without presenting any evidence to back their claims, on June 13 Russian prosecutors accused Mr. Gershkovich, 32, of “using painstaking conspiratorial methods” to collect classified information on orders from the C.I.A. about the work of a major Russian factory in the Urals region east of Moscow that produces tanks and other weapons. If convicted, he would face up to 20 years in prison.

Russia’s Federal Security Service, the country’s most powerful security agency, said in March 2023 that Mr. Gershkovich was detained while receiving classified information. Shortly after his arrest in the industrial city of Yekaterinburg, about 850 miles east of Moscow, the Kremlin said that Mr. Gershkovich was caught “red handed.”

Mr. Gershkovich is one of several American nationals who have been detained in Russia in recent years, and his case has raised fears that the Kremlin is seeking to use U.S. citizens as bargaining chips to be exchanged for Russians held in the West. Russian authorities have made little secret that Mr. Gershkovich’s most likely way out of Russian prison would be through a prisoner swap with the United States after a verdict is haded down in his case.

In its findings, the U.N. Working Group noted that the facts of the case against Mr. Gershkovich and “the pattern by the Russian Federation of political hostage-taking” made it clear that Russia “has detained Mr. Gershkovich on the basis of his nationality and citizenship.”

Other Americans held in Russia include Paul Whelan, a U.S. Marine veteran; Alsu Kurmasheva, an editor working for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; and Marc Fogel, an American teacher at the Anglo-American School in Moscow, who in 2022 was sentenced to 14 years in a penal colony for drug smuggling.

Anatoly Kurmanaev contributed reporting.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Comment

Adblock Detected

Please support us by disabling your AdBlocker extension from your browsers for our website.