Evan Gershkovich’s ‘sham’ trial for ‘bogus accusation of espionage’ has predetermined outcome, colleagues say

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Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich’s colleagues and loved ones say his trial that began Wednesday in Russia isn’t actually a trial, but rather a rigged nightmare in which a “bogus accusation of espionage will inevitably lead to a bogus conviction.” 

The widely respected American reporter was arrested last March on espionage charges widely considered dubious, and the Biden administration has officially designated him “wrongfully detained.” Gershkovich, who appeared in the courtroom in a glass cage with a freshly shaved head, faces up to 20 years in prison.

“It’s very disturbing, obviously, you hate to see him caged like that, and we keep saying, you know, ‘He’s facing trial.’ He’s not really facing trial. He’s facing a hearing in which a judge in secret will endorse the accusations against him, which are completely false,” Wall Street Journal assistant editor Paul Beckett told Fox News on Wednesday. 


Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a courtroom in Yekaterinburg, Russia, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (AP)

Beckett, who was the Washington bureau chief before shifting positions to focus on bringing Gershkovich home, said the shaved head is part of a mandate at the new detention facility he was moved to after spending 15 months in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo prison. He is now in the same city he was arrested in when his ordeal began last year.

“Now he’s moved about 900 miles east to Yekaterinburg, where this hearing is taking place,” Beckett said.

Beckett called the beginning of the trial a “heavy heart day” for the Journal. Gershkovich is the first American journalist held by Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The closed-door trial that began Wednesday will not allow any reporters, U.S. officials, nor Gerskovich’s friends and family in the courtroom. The entire process is done in secrecy. 

“He doesn’t get all the defense that anyone in this country would get when you’re in court,” Beckett said. 


Gershkovich in glass cage

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a courtroom at the Moscow City Court, in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Dmitry Serebryakov)

“You look at the conviction rate, and it’s like 99-point something,” he continued. “So, we know it’s predetermined what the outcome is going to be.”

Dow Jones CEO Almar Latour and Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Emma Tucker have also blasted the “sham” trial and demanded his immediate release. Tucker recently wrote that the “bogus accusation of espionage will inevitably lead to a bogus conviction for an innocent man.” 

Experts and people familiar with the case have told Fox News Digital that the best hope of freedom for Gershkovich — and fellow American held in Russia Paul Whelan — is a high-profile prisoner swap. 

Earlier this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin floated a potential trade when asked about releasing the American reporter, whose parents emigrated from the Soviet Union.

“There is no taboo to settle this issue. We’re willing to solve it,” Putin said. “But there are certain terms being discussed via special services channels. I believe an agreement can be reached.”

Beckett would like the parties to get the ball rolling. 

“We have seen activity; we know that there have been conversations. We’d just like to see more progress. If anything, his new circumstance, which puts him on a path to a long time in Russian prison, should heighten the sense of urgency that the administration is bringing,” Beckett told Fox News. 


Evan Gershkovich

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.  (WSJ)

“We believe that President Putin is essentially amassing hostages held by the government to try and extract something they want from the United States and its allies,” Beckett said. “They’re interested in a return of a security services assassin who is being held in Berlin.” 

Beckett was referring to Vadim Krasikov, a Russian imprisoned in Germany for the assassination of a Chechen rebel leader. Beckett isn’t sure if the U.S. government would make that swap, but he knows he has to keep Gershkovich at the forefront. 

“We would just like to see something done very quickly,” he said. “I think after September, with the presidential election and everything else that’s going on in the world, that becomes much harder and this is the window that they need to act.” 

Earlier this month, former acting Hostage Affairs envoy Hugh Dugan told Fox News Digital the trial is a critical step in bringing Gershkovich home. He assumes the verdict won’t be “positive” for the American journalist, but having something formalized on paper could be critical. WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was freed from a Russian penal colony in 2022 in a prisoner exchange for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, was not sent home until she was given a nine-year sentence after pleading guilty. 

“It may be that they need a verdict in order to start dealing,” Dugan said. 

Gershkovich’s numerous media friends have continued to keep his name and cause alive with letters, social media campaigns and meetings to commiserate over his ordeal.

Gershkovich was arrested while reporting last March in Yekaterinburg, the fourth-largest city in the country. Russian prosecutors claim he collected secret evidence about a Russian tank manufacturer on orders from the CIA, Reuters reported.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby also called the proceedings a “sham” while speaking to reporters Wednesday.

“I’ll state it again. Evan has never been employed by the United States government,” Kirby said.

“Evan is not a spy. Journalism is not a crime,” Kirby continued. “Evan should never have been detained in the first place.” 


Former President Trump, the presumptive 2024 GOP nominee, posted on Truth Social that he would free Gershkovich if re-elected.

“EVAN GERSHKOVICH, the young Wall Street Journal reporter who is being harshly detained in Russia as his ESPIONAGE TRIAL is about to begin, will be released prior to my taking office if I WIN the Election on NOVEMBER 5th,” Trump wrote.  

“Crooked Joe can’t do anything right, although it is likely that he will pay $BILLIONS, which continues a very bad ‘Biden Precedent,’ to get Evan home,” Trump continued. “I got a record 58 hostages brought home, paying next to nothing. Putin has no respect for Biden – and that’s the way it goes!!! Fear not, Evan, I will get you home soon, and you will be safe while there!!!”

The Gershkovich family also urged the government to bring Evan home. 

“These past 15 months have been extraordinarily painful for Evan and for our family. We miss our son and just want him home. We’re deeply disappointed that he will have to endure further attempts to discredit him and to paint a picture that is unrecognizable to anyone who knows him. Evan is a journalist, and journalism is not a crime. We urge the US government to continue to do everything possible to bring Evan home now,” the Gershkovich family said in a statement provided to Fox News Digital

Anyone interested in learning more about Gershkovich can visit WSJ.com/evan and FreeGershkovich.com.

Fox News Digital’s Landon Mion contributed to this report. 

This post was originally published on Fox News

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