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Russia says US journalist Evan Gershkovich to face trial for ‘CIA work’

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Russia says US journalist Evan Gershkovich to face trial for ‘CIA work’

Wall Street Journal rejects ‘false and baseless’ charge against 32-year-old reporter who has been in custody since March 2023.

Russian prosecutors have said US journalist Evan Gershkovich will face trial in the Ural city of Yekaterinburg, where he was detained more than a year ago after he was accused of working for the CIA.

Gershkovich, 32, is accused of “gathering secret information” on orders from the CIA about Uralvagonzavod, a facility that produces and repairs military equipment, the prosecutor general’s office said in a statement, revealing for the first time the details of the accusations against him. The statement gave no date for the trial.

Gershkovich, a journalist with the Wall Street Journal, has been in jail since he was arrested in Yekaterinburg, about 1,400 kilometres (870 miles) east of Moscow, on March 29, 2023, and was accused of spying. He denies any wrongdoing.

Following the Russian announcement, the Journal said that Gershkovich was facing “a false and baseless charge”. A joint statement from Almar Latour, the newspaper’s publisher, and its editor-in-chief, Emma Tucker, demanded Gershkovich’s immediate release.

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“Russia’s latest move toward a sham trial is, while expected, deeply disappointing and still no less outrageous,” the statement said.

“Evan has spent 441 days wrongfully detained in a Russian prison for simply doing his job. Evan is a journalist. The Russian regime’s smearing of Evan is repugnant, disgusting and based on calculated and transparent lies.”

Gershkovich at his appearance in a Moscow court on April 23 [Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo]

The United States designated Gershkovich “wrongfully detained” in April 2023, and President Joe Biden has called his detention “totally illegal”.

Latour and Tucker said they now expected the US government to step up efforts to secure his release.

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Washington would continue to work to bring Gershkovich home.

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“Evan has done nothing wrong. He should never have been arrested in the first place. Journalism is not a crime,” Miller said. “The charges against him are false. And the Russian government knows that they’re false. He should be released immediately.”

Potential prisoner swap

Gershkovich was the first US journalist to be arrested on spying charges in Russia since the Cold War, as Moscow enacted increasingly repressive laws on freedom of speech after sending troops into Ukraine. Washington has sought to negotiate his release, but Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Moscow would consider a prisoner swap only after a verdict in his trial.

Asked last week by The Associated Press news agency about Gershkovich, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the US was “taking energetic steps” to secure the journalist’s release. He told international news agencies in a rare news conference that any such releases “aren’t decided via mass media” but through a “discreet, calm and professional approach”.

“And they certainly should be decided only on the basis of reciprocity,” he added, alluding to a potential prisoner swap.

Gershkovich faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

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The Uralvagonzavod factory, about 100km (60 miles) north of Yekaterinburg, has been sanctioned by Western countries. Based in the city of Nizhny Tagil in the Sverdlovsk region, it plays a crucial role in supplying tanks for Moscow’s war in Ukraine, according to the Russian Ministry of Defence.

The factory, which is run by a state conglomerate controlled by one of Putin’s allies, has publicly spoken of producing T-90M battle tanks and modernising T-72B3M tanks.

The number of tanks which Russia has lost in battle in Ukraine is a military secret in Russia, which says it has ramped up tank production.

The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank said in February that Russia had lost more than 3,000 tanks – the equivalent of its entire pre-war active inventory – but had enough lower-quality armoured vehicles in storage for years of replacements.

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Congressional Hispanic Caucus' Campaign Arm Endorses Biden for President -Statement

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Congressional Hispanic Caucus' Campaign Arm Endorses Biden for President -Statement
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The fundraising arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Bold PAC, has endorsed President Joe Biden for re-election, the Biden campaign said in a statement on Friday, as the 81-year-old president continues to rebuff calls for him to step down as the Democrats’ 2024 …
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Netanyahu, Israel blast UN court decision over illegal settlements ruling: 'Fundamentally wrong'

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Netanyahu, Israel blast UN court decision over illegal settlements ruling: 'Fundamentally wrong'

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The United Nation’s top court has ruled Israel’s settlements in the Palestinian territories are illegal, and they must be removed immediately.

“The State of Israel is under the obligation to bring an end to its unlawful presence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as rapidly as possible,” ICJ President Nawaf Salam said when he delivered the court’s findings on Friday, stressing that the “continued presence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is illegal.” 

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The opinion is merely advisory and is not legally binding. The court specifically aimed to provide its view on Israel’s policies and practices as well as the legal status of the settlements, the BBC reported. 

The court in May demanded Israel “immediately halt its military offensive” against Hamas in Rafah, the Palestinian terrorist group’s final stronghold in the Gaza Strip.

WASHINGTON POST DELETES ‘UNACCEPTABLE’ POST SCOLDING AMERICAN HOSTAGE PARENTS FOR NOT BEING CRITICAL OF ISRAEL

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly rejected the court’s conclusion, arguing in a statement posted on X that “Jewish people are not occupiers in their own land, including in our eternal capital Jerusalem nor in Judea and Samaria, our historic homeland.

“No absurd opinion in The Hague can deny this historical truth or the legal right of Israelis to live in their own communities in our ancestral home.” 

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The Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a longer, more detailed statement through its spokesperson Oren Marmorstein, who posted on social media platform X that “Israel rejects the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that was published today regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” 

DEADLY EXPLOSION IN TEL AVIV LEAVES ONE DEAD, MORE WOUNDED

“Unfortunately, the Court’s opinion is fundamentally wrong,” Marmorstein wrote. “It mixes politics and law. It injects the politics of the corridors of the U.N. in New York into the courtrooms of the ICJ in The Hague.

Nawaf Salam, judge and president of the International Court of Justice, second from right, delivers a non-binding ruling on the legal consequences of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem at the International Court of Justice in The Hague July 19, 2024.  (Nick Gammon/AFP via Getty Images)

“The opinion is completely detached from the reality of the Middle East: While Hamas, Iran and other terrorist elements are attacking Israel from seven fronts … with the aim of obliterating it, and in the aftermath of the greatest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, the opinion ignores the atrocities that took place on October 7, as well as the security imperative of Israel to defend its territory and its citizens,” Marmostein continued.

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“It should be emphasized that the opinion is blatantly one-sided,” Marmostein added. “It ignores the past: The historical rights of the State of Israel and the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.

BIDEN’S $230 MILLION GAZA PIER QUIETLY SHUTS DOWN, US SENATOR LABELS PROJECT ‘NATIONAL EMBARRASSMENT’

Israeli settlements

Two Israeli Cabinet members issued a rebuttal to American criticism of settlement construction in the West Bank, also known as Judea and Samaria in Israel. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

“It is detached from the present: from the reality on the ground and the agreements between the parties,” he stressed. “And it is dangerous for the future: it distances the parties from the only possible solution, which is direct negotiations.”

Netherlands Hague Israel

Members of the diplomatic corps react as they attend a non-binding ruling on the legal consequences of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem at the International Court of Justice in The Hague July 19, 2024. (Nick Gammon/AFP via Getty Images)

Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust and president at Human Rights Voices, told Fox News Digital the court’s opinion “literally throws out the Oslo Accords and U.N. Security Council resolutions.”

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Israeli flag

This picture taken July 30, 2020, from the Mount of the Olives shows a view of an Israeli flag flying in Jerusalem with the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock seen in the background.  (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images)

“It is impossible to overstate the legal perversion from this U.N. Court,” Bayefsky said. “It was read out by its president, who is a politician from Lebanon (whose name was on the ballot to be the prime minister of Lebanon in the last two elections), a country that doesn’t even recognize Israel’s right to exist. Incredibly, the court openly states it didn’t need to find any specific facts in violation of international law before reaching its conclusions, including before making the slanderous claim that Israel is guilty of the crime against humanity of apartheid. It took the court all of four mini-paragraphs to reach the apartheid conclusion.

“The U.N. and its kangaroo court says it knows best — the same U.N. that today is controlled by a vicious antisemitic majority, elects the judges and chooses the poison, in this case, legal farce — which, make no mistake, has one goal: to devastate and destroy the Jewish state.”

Israel already suffered a legal blow from the International Criminal Court, a separate legal governing body in the Netherlands, in which Prosecutor Karim Khan filed applications for arrest warrants against Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, in addition to leaders of Hamas.

The State Department did not respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment by the time of publication.

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State of the Union: Von der Leyen and Metsola reelected, Trump nominated

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State of the Union: Von der Leyen and Metsola reelected, Trump nominated

This edition of State of the Union focuses on the reelection of Ursula von der Leyen and Roberta Metsola and the state of play of the U.S. presidential campaign.

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Hello and welcome to State of the Union, I’m Stefan Grobe in Strasbourg.

It’s still July, but for European lawmakers it felt like back-to-school day.

Following the European elections in June, the new and old members of the European Parliament gathered in Strasbourg for the first plenary session of the new legislative season.

The 720-member chamber is the EU only directly elected institution, it negotiates and adopts EU legislative proposals and approves the bloc’s budget.

On top of the agenda this week: the election of the top positions in Parliament and Commission – no real surprise here, as Roberta Metsola and Ursula von der Leyen were both confirmed in office.

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Metsola, who easily won a second term, got a little emotional when she recalled what Europe meant to her when she grew up in Malta.

“To me, Europe was worth fighting for. It was never perfect, but we looked to the European Parliament, to this Strasbourg hemicycle, as a symbol of standards of opportunity, of reconciliation. It was our guarantee of the rule of law, of equality, of democracy, of liberty, of prosperity.”

While all eyes were on Strasbourg this week, it was business as usual in Brussels.

And for the EU Commission it meant grappling with the drama of the presidential campaign in the United States.

The attempted assassination of Donald Trump in Pennsylvania sent shockwaves through the corridors of power in Brussels.

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EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell reacted with condemnation and relief: “Fortunately, the attack on Trump was not what they wanted it to be, he is alive, thank God. And hopefully the campaign will normalize and Americans will decide what they think is right.”

The assassination attempt paired with the struggle inside the Democratic Party over whether President Joe Biden should drop out of the race have dramatically upended the election campaign.

At the Republican Convention in Milwaukee this week, Trump was celebrated as a hero and a survivor of evil.

Republicans are now more confident than ever before to win in November, even to beat Biden in a landslide.

So, do we all have to fasten our belts and get ready for another Trump administration in Washington? What does that mean for Europe?

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We spoke to Majda Ruge, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, based in Berlin.

Euronews: Following the assassination attempt, Trump and Biden have called for unity – how long can that moment last? Or is it already over?

Ruge: Well, the sort of unity that we’re actually seeing is more in the Republican Party, I would say. I think Trump’s call for unity is also a very subtle and intelligent tactics to reach out to either undecided or disgruntled Biden voters in the swing states. So, you know, I’m not expecting a sudden turn to, national unity, really, but more kind of an approach of unifying the Republican Party and then reaching out to voters that might be useful for President Trump.

Euronews: European leaders have been preparing for a Trump victory in November – will they have to step up their efforts now?

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Ruge: They definitely will have. I think the key question really on these preparations is not whether they should prepare and step up, but when they should have started, and I think they should have started long time ago, at least two years ago. Now it’s very clear that there will be a radical shift in the U.S. foreign policy if Trump is re-elected, and that the Europeans will be faced with multiple policy shocks at the same time, starting from potential withdrawal of U.S. aid for Ukraine over radical downsizing of U.S. military presence in Europe and their role in NATO through trade protectionism.

Euronews: What will bring a possible vice president JD Vance to future U.S.-EU relations?

Well, if you kind of look at his foreign policy profile, not that he has an active one as a government official, but he has been quite vocal, and active both in terms of interviews, statements and op-eds. He is a big, big sceptic of U.S. support for Ukraine. He thinks that the wealthy European nations, and he has singled out Germany many times, are the one who are responsible for really financing and, you know, paying for this war. He is kind of a restrainer in heart, but in fact, on foreign policy, a big prioritizer of China and Taiwan. So, I think that one thing we can expect as Europeans, if Trump is elected, is that JD Vance, his appointment as vice president is going to draw in many of the foreign policy experts in the Republican ecosystem who have long been arguing that a radical shift of military and financial resources needs to be made from Europe and Ukraine to China and Taiwan.

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