(JTA) — A Moscow court extended the pretrial detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich through March 30, meaning he will have spent at least a year behind bars before his trial begins.
Gershkovich, the 32-year-old American son of Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Union, has been held on espionage charges since March 29, 2023, when he was arrested by Russian agents while on a reporting trip in the city of Yekaterinburg. Gershkovich, the United States government, and the Wall Street Journal deny the allegations, for which the Russian government has not provided evidence. The U.S. government considers him to be wrongfully held.
The Wall Street Journal and its parent company, Dow Jones, condemned the court’s decision, which was made in a closed hearing on Friday.
“It is chilling and outrageous that Evan has now spent 10 months of his life in prison, simply for doing his job,” their statement said. “While these are clearly sham proceedings about patently false charges, we intend to appeal today’s ruling, as we have in the past. Journalism is not a crime, and we continue to demand Evan’s immediate release.”
Gershkovich is the first American reporter held on espionage charges in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War more than 30 years ago. His arrest came roughly a year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine precipitated a crackdown on press freedom in Russia.
At his end-of-year press conference in December, Russian president Vladimir Putin made his first public remarks on the jailed journalist, saying that Russia hopes to reach an agreement to release Gershkovich and U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who has been held in a Russian prison since 2018.
“It is not that we have refused to return them,” Putin said during the four-hour press conference. “We want to reach an agreement, and these agreements must be mutually acceptable and must suit both sides.”
Efforts toward Gershkovich’s release have focused on a prisoner swap, but the State Department revealed in early December that an offer made to Russia to trade prisoners for Gershkovich and Whelan was turned down.
“It is not easy,” Putin added. “I will not go into details, but in general it seems to me that we are speaking a language that we both understand. I hope that we will find a solution.”
If convicted of espionage, Gershkovich could face up to 20 years in a penal colony. No trial date has been set.
His detainment has mobilized the global Jewish community over the past year, drawing interest and support from Jews and Jewish organizations. That support has occasionally echoed tactics used to draw attention to the plight of Soviet Jews decades ago, such as leaving an empty seat at the Passover seder table. Ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish Federations of North America organized a letter-writing campaign to Gershkovich to mark the Jewish new year.
The U.S. ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, visited Gershkovich two weeks ago in what has now become a monthly meeting.
“Evan remains resilient and is grateful for the support of friends, family and supporters,” the U.S. Embassy to Russia shared on its Telegram account on Jan. 18. “We continue to call for Evan’s immediate release.”
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UBC student union has voted against posing a referendum question about whether Hillel House should be evicted from campus
The student union at the University of British Columbia rejected a referendum question on its upcoming election ballot that would have, among other things, called for the eviction of Hillel BC from its Vancouver campus. The Feb. 28 meeting of the Alma Mater Society (AMS/Student Union) lasted several hours and ultimately ended with a 23-to-2 […]
‘Antisemitism Has No Place in Society,’ Says Prince William, Heir to British Throne
The heir to the throne of the United Kingdom spoke of his concern at the rise in antisemitism since the Hamas pogrom of Oct. 7 in southern Israel during a visit to a synagogue in London on Wednesday.
William, Prince of Wales, told Jewish students and representatives of the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) that he and his wife, Princess Catherine, were “extremely concerned about the rise in antisemitism.”
Wearing a navy blue kippa for the encounter at the Western Marble Arch Synagogue, the future king “heard how organizations like the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) are delivering programs to tackle hatred and encourage cross-community cohesion,” the London-based Jewish Chronicle reported.
In a conversation with three Jewish students and three HET ambassadors, the prince condemned the antisemitism that the students described experiencing on campus. “Prejudice has no place in society,” he said.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I want you all to know you can talk about it and your experiences,” he continued.“Both Catherine and I are extremely concerned about the rise in antisemitism that you guys have talked about this morning and I’m just so sorry if any of you have had to experience that. It has no place… that’s why I’m here today to reassure you all that people do care and people do listen and we can’t let that go.”
The UK experienced a record year in 2023 for antisemitic outrages, with over 4,100 incidents recorded mainly in the period after the Hamas pogrom, according to a recent report from the Community Security Trust (CST), a voluntary organization serving the Jewish community. Speaking at the CST’s annual dinner on Wednesday night, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned the upsurge, pledging an extra $68 million in funding to combat the continuing spread of antisemitism.
Edward Isaacs, president of the Union of Jewish Students, told Prince William that antisemitism had transformed the experiences of Jews studying at Britain’s universities. “If you haven’t been a victim, you know someone who has been,” Isaacs said. “It has created a fear like never before.”
The prince also met with Renee Salt, a 94-year-old survivor of the Holocaust, in the synagogue’s main sanctuary. An inmate of both the Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps, Salt told William of her fear that “some of the young people don’t even believe it [the Holocaust] ever happened. It is very bad.”
Clasping her hand, the prince responded, “It will get better.”
Emma Levy, a Jewish student who attended the meeting, praised the prince for his stance. “You could really tell that he cared when he was speaking to us,” she said. “The prince’s unequivocal condemnation of antisemitism is what we need more people to do.”
The post ‘Antisemitism Has No Place in Society,’ Says Prince William, Heir to British Throne first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
IDF Opens New Mental Health Center for Soldiers Leaving Gaza
The IDF opened a new mental health center on Thursday which is aimed towards treating soldiers leaving Gaza. The center is opening due to the growing risks the IDF said it sees in the soldiers potentially falling victim to PTSD from their experiences in battle.
“The Iron Swords War presented significant challenges to the mental health system in the IDF both in terms of quality and scope. The establishment of the Center for Mental Health Services expresses more than anything the commitment of the IDF to take care of its servicemen as well as to provide answers to the challenges we are already facing as well as emerging challenges. As part of the establishment of the center, new answers are being discovered and established that are adapted to the special needs of the various populations serving in the IDF,” said Col. Dr. Jacob Rothschild, who heard the new center.
The army has said that since the war’s outbreak, more than 30,000 soldiers have met with mental health representatives. According to them, roughly 85% of soldiers that met with the professionals returned to full service. Unfortunately, 202 fighters were forced to be released from duty, in almost every case due to horrid scenes they witnessed in the aftermath of the October 7 massacre. This includes an additional 1,700 that were referred for additional scanning and treatment.
On the day of the massacre, Hamas terrorists rampaged southern Israel, brutally killing more than 1,200 Israelis and taking hostage over 250. First responder reports depicted scenes such as decapitations and mutilations of bodies by the terrorists.
The new center, situated at the Tel HaShomer base, is staffed by some of the top psychologists in the country, the IDF said, and will include a immediate combat reaction wing and post-trauma department. It replaces the temporary facility that was set up in a WeWork office in Tel Aviv.
While 30,000 soldiers have met with mental health professionals since the war began, the IDF says they were “pleasantly surprised” that an overwhelming majority of soldiers ended up returned to service.
Lt. Col. Prof. Elon Glazberg, the Chief Medical Officer of the IDF Medical Corps, said in a statement about the opening “From the first moment of the war, mental health was present in the torture from the field to the home front. In light of the great importance of the issue, we chose it as one of the main axes of focus these days – and we are now working to expand it.”
The post IDF Opens New Mental Health Center for Soldiers Leaving Gaza first appeared on Algemeiner.com.