The U.S. ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, made her first visit to Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich on Monday, more than two weeks after Russia detained him on espionage charges.
“He is in good health and remains strong," Tracy tweeted from the U.S. Embassy account. "We reiterate our call for his immediate release."
Russia had denied the embassy's requests for access to Gershkovich, who is being held at Moscow's Lefortovo Prison. Gershkovich was detained March 30 on suspicion of “espionage in the interests of the American government,” Russia’s Federal Security Service said in a statement, which was reported by Russian state media. Russian authorities have not provided evidence to support the charges.
The Wall Street Journal and the Biden administration have repeatedly denied that Gershkovich was affiliated with the U.S. government.
The Lefortovo Court in Moscow ordered Gershkovich to be detained initially until May 29, according to the official Telegram channel of the capital’s courts. Gershkovich denied the charges, according to the Tass state news agency. If he is convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
On Tuesday, the court will hear a complaint Gershkovich filed against the decision to detain him ahead of a possible trial, Reuters reported, citing a court document.
Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinked formally declared that Russia had wrongfully detained Gershkovich. President Joe Biden, who called Gershkovich's family last Tuesday, told reporters that his detention is "totally illegal."
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Monday that she was "absolutely delighted" that Tracy was allowed to see Gershkovich. "But we still call for his unconditional release," she said. "He is being held unfairly and unjustly, and the Russians need to allow him to return to his family."
"We protest Russian efforts to limit and intimidate the media," Thomas-Greenfield continued. "Free, independent and pluralistic media play an indispensable role in informing people around the world.”