Evan Gershkovich: US reporter held in Russia on spying charges has detention extended

A US journalist held in Russia on spying charges has had his detention extended, Russian news agencies have said.

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who is still waiting for a trial date and details of the evidence against him, was told he would be held in the country until the end of March, according to reports on Friday.

The US Consul General Stuart Wilson was at the hearing on extending pre-trial detention at a court in Moscow, which took place behind closed doors because details of his case are classified, authorities said.

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Mr Gershkovich, 32, was shown on Russian state TV listening to the ruling, while standing in a court cage wearing a hooded top and light blue jeans.

Soon afterwards, he was pictured walking towards a prison van to leave the court.

The reporter was arrested in March while on a work trip to the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, about 1,200 miles (2,000km) east of Moscow.

Russia claims that Mr Gershkovich was caught "red-handed" and the FSB, the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, said he was trying to obtain military secrets while working for Washington.

The journalist and the Journal deny the allegations, and Washington has said he has been wrongfully detained.

Mr Gershkovich, the first US journalist to be detained in Russia on spying charges since the Cold War, had his detention extended until January at a hearing in November.

Russian authorities haven't offered any evidence to support the espionage charges.

During his end-of-year news conference in December, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow is in dialogue with the US on bringing home both Mr Gershkovich and jailed American Paul Whelan, and that the Kremlin hopes to "find a solution" even though "it's not easy".

The Russian Foreign Ministry has said it will consider a swap for Mr Gershkovich only after a verdict in his trial. In Russia, espionage trials can last for more than a year.

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US reporter's detention extended until January

Mr Gershkovich is the first American reporter to be charged with espionage in Russia since 1986, when Nicholas Daniloff, a Moscow correspondent for US News and World Report, was arrested by the KGB.

He is being held at Moscow's Lefortovo prison, notorious for its harsh conditions and could be jailed for up to 20 years, if convicted.

Analysts have said that Moscow may be using jailed Americans as bargaining chips after US-Russian tensions soared when Russia sent troops into Ukraine.

At least two US citizens arrested in Russia in recent years, including WNBA star Brittney Griner, have been exchanged for Russians jailed in the US.