Innocent reporter Evan Gershkovich has birthday behind bars on Putin’s orders after 211 days locked up on bogus charges

Innocent reporter Evan Gershkovich has birthday behind bars on Putin’s orders after 211 days locked up on bogus charges

WALL Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich turns 32-years-old today – but marks his birthday from behind bars at a notorious Moscow jail.

The innocent American has now been held by Vladimir Putin for 211 days on bogus espionage charges that he vehemently denies.

AFPIt is falsely jailed reporter Evan Gershkovich’s birthday today[/caption]

EPAThe now 32-year-old put on a brave face inside a glass dock at his last court hearing[/caption]

His family have been able to exchange much-needed letters with the detained journalist over the past 7 monthsAFP

Earlier this week, the jailed reporter’s sister cried “we want him home”.

“Every day that Evan is in prison is a day too long,” Danielle Gershkovich said.

The journalist was detained by the Federal Security Service (FSB) on March 29 during a reporting trip to the Urals city of Yekaterinburg on trumped up charges of spying.

He is the first Western reporter to be jailed on espionage charges in Russia since the Soviet era, and he faces a prison term of up to 20 years if convicted.

Gershkovich, The WSJ and the US government have categorically denied the allegations, saying he was simply doing his job as a reporter.

Russian officials have not yet provided any evidence publicly to back up their allegations.

Washington branded the charges “ridiculous” and US President Joe Biden has said his detention is “totally illegal”.

Daniella added that Biden had promised he “is going to get Evan home”.

“So we’re relying on the government,” she said.

“But of course Evan isn’t here today so the job’s not done until he’s sitting with us.

“So we just have to remain strong and do our part on our end.”

No date has been officially set for his trial, however Putin’s spooks have continued to extend his detention for months on end.

At his most recent court hearing two weeks ago, he was once again denied a bid for freedom as he awaits trial at Moscow’s most famously grim prison, Lefortovo.

The judge rejected his appeal and ordered his continued detention until at least November 30.

Danielle Gershkovich said her family had been able to exchange letters with her brother.

“Those are a lifeline for all of us,” she said. “I love to use them as a moment to keep his spirits up.

“When I’m reading his letters I hear his voice in my head,” she added. “I get to feel like we’re just talking together. I feel connected to him.”

“I know that Evan will come out of this stronger and he’ll want to get back to being a reporter,” she said. “He’s incredibly passionate about being a journalist. It’s really his life’s passion.”

Gershkovich’s parents, who fled the Soviet Union, went to the United Nations last month to call for their son’s release ahead of the annual General Assembly.

Putin’s arrest of Evan has previously been branded internationally as a “cowardly act” as the despot desperately tries to escape accountability over his war in Ukraine.

Gershkovich’s detention marked an increasingly ferocious crackdown on media freedom in Russia.

His employers called the arrest “a vicious affront to a free press” that “should spur outrage in all free people and governments throughout the world”.

“No reporter should ever be detained for simply doing their job,” The Journal added.

Ahead of his birthday, the paper had asked for people to send Gershkovich messages of support through the US Embassy or the website.

“To let him know the world cares.”

Several US citizens have been handed heavy sentences in Russia in recent years.

Washington accuses Moscow of using them as bargaining chips to obtain the release of Russians held in the United States.

In December, Russia freed American basketball star Brittney Griner, who was arrested over traces of cannabis, in return for the release of Russian prisoner Viktor Bout.

Bout, nicknamed the “Merchant of Death”, was imprisoned in the United States for weapons smuggling and now back in Russia is running for office as a far-right candidate.

AFPGershkovich’s sister says that everyday he spends in prison ‘is a day too long’[/caption]

ReutersReporters take pictures of Evan inside his glass cage at a court hearing[/caption]

AFPOutside the entrance to Lefortovo prison where he is being held – known for housing political dissidents[/caption]

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