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US calls for immediate release of Gershkovich after Russia seeks to extend detention

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States called for the immediate release of detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich on Tuesday after Russia's security service sought to extend his detention.

"He shouldn’t be detained at all. Journalism is not a crime. He needs to be released immediately," White House national security spokesman John Kirby told CNN. "We’re still going to work very, very hard to see if we can get him home with his family where he belongs."

Kirby spoke after investigators from Russia's FSB security service applied to keep Gershkovich, arrested in March on espionage charges, in custody for another three months, according to a report from Russia's state news agency TASS, which cited the court.

U.S. officials are still pressing for consular access to Gershkovich directly with the Russians, Kirby said.

"There is no grounds for denying consular access... We really want to get that consular access going," he said.

(Reporting by Steve Holland and Rami Ayyub; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Tim Ahmann)