Investigators from Russia's FSB security service have applied to keep Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, arrested in March on espionage charges, in custody for another three months, Russia's state news agency TASS reported on Tuesday, citing the court.
The FSB arrested Gershkovich, a US citizen, on March 29 in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg on charges that carry a possible 20-year prison sentence. It accused him of collecting state secrets about the military-industrial complex.
TASS said a remand hearing was underway at Moscow's Lefortovo court. Gershkovich is currently remanded in pre-trial detention until May 29. A reporter for the American news network CNN tweeted that Gershkovich's parents were at court for the hearing.
Wrongful detainment, President Biden says
Gershkovich and the Journal both deny the espionage charges, which US President Joe Biden called illegal, and the United States has officially deemed him "wrongfully detained."
The Kremlin has said Gershkovich, the first US journalist detained in Russia on espionage charges since the end of the Cold War, was caught "red-handed."
The US quickly called for his immediate release.
"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.
US 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.