In Russian courts, espionage charges lead to secret trials and near-certain convictions

By | April 4, 2023

The Wall Street Journal reports:

As Moscow prosecutors prepare an espionage case against jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, lawyers with experience in the Russian judicial process predict a journey through a justice system with the familiar features of Western courts but little of their substance.

Like in the U.S. and other Western legal systems, Mr. Gershkovich is guaranteed a defense lawyer in Russia. But in practice, there is no promise of when his lawyer will be allowed to talk to him. When they do talk, their conversations will be closely monitored, say experts who track legal developments in Russia.

Russian law also guarantees defendants the right to a jury trial open to public scrutiny. But exemptions to that rule in the case of espionage cases mean Mr. Gershkovich is likely to be tried in secret in front of a judge.

In Russia’s judicial system such judges are “subject to influence from the executive branch, the armed forces, and other security forces, particularly in high-profile or politically sensitive cases,” according to a recent State Department report on Russia’s human-rights practices. [Continue reading…]