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Russia extends jailtime of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich by three months

 (AP)
(AP)

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has had his pre-trial detention extended by three months by a Russian court.

The 31-year-old American was arrested on March 29 in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg on spying charges that carry up to 20 years in prison.

He is being held at Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, notorious for its harsh conditions.

His newspaper has emphatically rejected the charge and the United States has accused Russia of conducting “hostage diplomacy”.

In July the Kremlin suggested it was open to a possible prisoner exchange that could involve Evan Gershkovich, but it stressed that such talks must be held out of the public eye.

Mr Gershkovich was arrested on espionage charges at a restaurant in the city of Yekaterinburg by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

The FSB said it had opened a case against him for collecting what it said were state secrets about a military-industrial complex.

Mr Gershkovich is an experienced reporter on Russian issues and is well-known among foreign correspondents in Moscow. BBC Russia editor Steve Rosenberg described him as “an excellent reporter and a highly principled journalist”.

His arrest rattled journalists in Russia, where authorities have not provided any evidence to support the espionage charges.