A Moscow court has arrested Evan Gershkovich, a US reporter with the Wall Street Journal suspected of espionage, the state TASS news agency reported.
The 31-year-old told the court he was not guilty.
However, the court ruled that Gershkovich should be held in pre-trial custody for nearly two months until May 29, according to a court document.
The Russian Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., said in a statement that Gershkovich “is suspected of spying in the interests of the American government” and had been detained in Yekaterinburg, a city about 900 miles east of Moscow. The F.S.B. is a successor agency to the Soviet-era K.G.B.
According to Al Jazeera, the detained US journalist had lived in Russia for the past six years.
“He was gathering information to do a story about how people felt in this area of Yekaterinburg region about the involvement of the Wagner group in the conflict in Ukraine,” said Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari, reporting from Moscow.
“This fixer that was arranging interviews for him said he had left that area and returned on Wednesday unannounced, and he hasn’t been heard from since,” she said.
Gershkovich is accredited to work as a journalist in Russia by the country’s foreign ministry, the WSJ said.
“The Wall Street Journal vehemently denies the allegations from the FSB and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter, Evan Gershkovich,” the Journal said. “We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family.”
As Washington leads a coalition of nations in supporting Ukraine’s military defense and pushing for Moscow’s increased diplomatic and economic isolation, his detention occurs amidst the continuing deterioration of relations between Russia and the United States.