WASHINGTON — A Russian court on Tuesday extended the pretrial detention of American journalist Evan Gershkovich by about three months, until August 30.

The Wall Street Journal reporter was detained in Yekaterinburg in March on espionage charges, which he, his employer and the US government deny. If he is found guilty, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

«By a decision of the Lefortovsky District Court of Moscow dated May 23, 2023, the term of detention of Evan Gershkovich, accused of committing an offense under article 276 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, was extended for three months and one day, that is, until August 30, 2023”, reads the court decision.

Evan Gershkovich lies in a glass cage in a Moscow court on April 18, 2023.Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP file

The decision comes after a Moscow court upheld Gershkovich’s pretrial detention in April.

The Wall Street Journal said in a statement that Gershkovich had appeared for a pretrial hearing on Tuesday. «While we had hoped there would be no change in Evan’s wrongful detention, we are deeply disappointed,» the newspaper said. «The allegations are demonstrably false and we continue to demand his immediate release.»

Last month, the Biden administration designated Gershkovich as wrongfully detained, transferring his case to the State Department’s Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, which will allow the administration to use additional resources to secure his release.

Gershkovich’s colleagues at the Journal reacted to the court’s decision on Twitter.

«A horribly disappointing development as we continue to wait for justice for our colleague @wsj», wrote reporter Melissa Korn.

«LEAVE EVAN NOW» tweeted reporter Joe Flint.

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken demanded Gershkovich’s release in a statement for World Press Freedom Day.

“Too many governments use repression to silence free speech, including by retaliating against journalists simply for doing their jobs,” Blinken said. «We again call on the Russian authorities to immediately release Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and all other journalists detained for exercising freedom of expression.»

President Joe Biden spoke about Gershkovich at his White House Correspondents’ Dinner comments last month, saying the reporter had «absolute bravery.»

“We work every day to secure his release, looking for opportunities and tools to bring him home,” Biden told attendees. «Let’s keep the faith.»