A Moscow court today extended by two months, until March 30, the temporary detention of Evan Gerskovich, the American journalist of the Wall Street Journal who was arrested in late March 2023 in Russia on suspicion of “espionage,” a charge his defense has denied.

“The period of detention of Evan Gerskovich (…) has been extended by two months (…) until March 30, 2024,” the press service of the Lefortovsky court said in a statement posted on the Telegram application.

The hearing was held behind closed doors. The court released a video in which the 32-year-old journalist can be seen listening to the decision announced by a judge with folded hands.

He was taken to court in a white van and was escorted by a masked man and police officers as he entered, according to an AFP reporter who was there.

The Wall Street Journal reporter, who also previously worked for AFP in Moscow, was arrested by Russia’s FSB security services while reporting in Yekaterinburg, Urals, in March 2023.

He is accused of espionage, a crime for which he can be sentenced to 20 years in prison, but he rejects the charge, as does the US, his newspaper, his family and his environment.

Russia has not substantiated these accusations, nor has it publicly produced any evidence, and the entire process has been classified as secret.

American citizens have been arrested and sentenced to heavy sentences in Russia in recent years, and Washington, which has backed Kiev after Russian forces invaded Ukraine, accuses Moscow of wanting to swap them for Russian prisoners in the US.

In mid-December, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was “hopeful” of a deal that would lead to the release of Gershovitch and former US Marine Paul Whelan, who has been imprisoned in Russia since 2018.