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WATCH: Evan Gershkovich appears in Russian court

Steve Rosenberg and Chloe King

BBC News, Moscow and London

A Russian court has rejected an appeal by American journalist Evan Gershkovich over his pretrial detention.

He appeared in court in Moscow on Tuesday, his first public appearance in weeks.

He was arrested while working for the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in Yekaterinburg and charged with espionage.

Gershkovic, wearing jeans and a blue plaid shirt, stood with his arms folded inside the bulletproof glass enclosure.

He smiled calmly and didn't say anything to the reporters present.

It was the first time Mr Gershkovic has been seen since being detained.

Along with his lawyer, Lynn Tracy, the U.S. ambassador to Moscow, also appeared in court.

Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza was just found guilty of treason on Monday and sentenced to prison.

Media were allowed into the courtroom at the beginning of the hearing, then were led out, and will be allowed to return at the conclusion of the hearing.

Speaking outside court after the hearing, Ms Tracy said she was allowed to meet Mr Gershkovich for the first time on Monday and that he was "in good health and strong despite the circumstances".

"The allegations against Evan are baseless and we call on the Russian Federation to release him immediately," she said.

“He was competitive,” said one of his lawyers, Maria Korchagina. "He's working out and he knows people are rooting for him."

More than 40 countries, led by the United States, issued a joint statement at the United Nations on Monday calling for Mr Gershkovich's release and condemning Moscow for intimidating the media.

Mr Gershkovich, 31, was arrested on March 29 and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of espionage.

Russia claims he is trying to obtain classified defense information for the U.S. government. Mr Gershkovich has denied any wrongdoing.

His arrest was the first time Moscow has accused an American journalist of espionage since the Soviet era.

Reporters Without Borders said Mr Gershkovich was reporting on the Wagner Group, a Russian mercenary group, in Yekaterinburg, about 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) east of Moscow.

His driver dropped him off at a restaurant, and two hours later, his cellphone shut down, U.S. officials said.

Lawyers for The Wall Street Journal have been able to see him, and the company said it is doing "everything possible to support Evan and his family."

U.S. leaders — President Joe Biden and Republican and Democratic senators — have condemned his detention.

His case is now being handled by the US Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs.

BBC Russia editor Steve Rosenberg described him as an excellent reporter and a very principled one.

According to a report by the James Foley Legacy Foundation, at least 65 Americans will be unfairly detained abroad in 2022.

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