Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich will remain jailed on espionage charges until at least late June, after a Moscow court on Tuesday rejected his appeal that sought to end his pre-trial detention.

The 32-year-old US citizen was detained in late March 2023 while on a reporting trip and has spent more than a year behind bars.

Last month, his arrest was extended until June 30 in a ruling he and his defence lawyers later appealed against.

Biden Russia Gershkovich
Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich at an earlier hearing (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

The appeal was heard by a Moscow appellate court on Tuesday and rejected.

In the courtroom on Tuesday, Mr Gerhskovich, wearing a white T-shirt and an open checked shirt, looked relaxed, at times laughing and chatting with members of his legal team.

His arrest in the city of Yekaterinburg rattled journalists in Russia, where authorities have not detailed what, if any, evidence they have to support the espionage charges.

Mr Gershkovich and his employer have denied the allegations, and the US government has declared him to be wrongfully detained.

Analysts have said Moscow may be using jailed Americans as bargaining chips in soaring US-Russian tensions over the Kremlin’s military operation in Ukraine.

At least two US citizens arrested in Russia in recent years — including WNBA star Brittney Griner — have been exchanged for Russians jailed in the US.

In December, the US State Department said it had made a significant offer to secure the release of Mr Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, another American imprisoned in Russia on espionage charges, which it said Moscow had rejected.

Officials did not describe the offer, although Russia has been said to be seeking the release of Vadim Krasikov, who was given a life sentence in Germany in 2021 for the killing in Berlin of Zelimkhan “Tornike” Khangoshvili, a 40-year-old Georgian citizen of Chechen descent who had fought Russian troops in Chechnya and later claimed asylum in Germany.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, asked this year about releasing Mr Gershkovich, appeared to refer to Krasikov by pointing to a man imprisoned by a US ally for “liquidating a bandit” who had allegedly killed Russian soldiers during separatist fighting in Chechnya.

Mr Gershkovich is the first American reporter to be arrested on espionage charges in Russia since September 1986, when Nicholas Daniloff, a Moscow correspondent for US News and World Report, was arrested by the KGB.

Mr Daniloff was released without charge 20 days later in a swap for an employee of the then Soviet Union’s UN mission who was arrested by the FBI, also on spying charges.