Evan Gershkovich
Evan GershkovichREUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

Russia on Thursday extended the detention of Jewish American reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested in March on spying charges, by three months, AFP reported.

Gershkovich, a Moscow correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, had continued to report from Russia during Moscow's offensive in Ukraine.

"The time of detention has been extended by three months... Until November 30, 2023," a spokesperson for Moscow's Lefortovsky court said, according to AFP.

The news agency reported that Gershkovich was seen handcuffed, being escorted into the court by masked men.

After the hearing, one of Gershkovich's lawyers left the court without giving any comment to journalists.

Gershkovich was arrested during a reporting trip in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg on March 29, becoming the first Western journalist to be arrested on espionage charges in Russia since the Soviet era.

He has since been held in Moscow's notorious Lefortovo prison, famous for keeping inmates in near-total isolation.

In June, the United States House of Representatives voted unanimously to approve a resolution demanding that Russia release Gershkovich.

The congressional resolution, which is not binding, calls for Gershkovich to be released from prison immediately, and also demands that he be given full access to US consular staff until he is released.

The US on Thursday renewed demands that Russia free Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, another detained American.

"The claims against Evan Gershkovich are baseless. Once again, we call for Russia to immediately release Evan and also to release wrongfully detained US citizen Paul Whelan," a State Department spokesperson said.

Germany condemned the ruling to extend Gershkovich’s detention.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told reporters that the decision "shows what this brutal force at home means -- that there are no fair trials" in Russia, adding that Gershkovich "must be released".