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All-Star Chelsea Gray returns to Aces, Jackie Young scores 32 to help stop Storm 94-83

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All-Star Chelsea Gray returns to Aces, Jackie Young scores 32 to help stop Storm 94-83
Sport

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All-Star Chelsea Gray returns to Aces, Jackie Young scores 32 to help stop Storm 94-83

2024-06-20 20:45 Last Updated At:20:51

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jackie Young scored 32 points, A'ja Wilson added 27 and the Las Vegas Aces celebrated the return of All-Star point guard Chelsea Gray by defeating the Seattle Storm 94-83 on Wednesday night.

Gray, a five-time All-Star and 2020 Olympic gold-medal winner who will head to the Paris Games next month, had seven assists, four rebounds and two blocks with one point in 15:30 minutes. Gray missed the first dozen games of the season with a left foot injury, plus the clincher last year when Las Vegas beat the Liberty for its second-straight championship.

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Las Vegas Aces coach Becky Hammon, front left, and players celebrate during a timeout in the first half of a WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jackie Young scored 32 points, A'ja Wilson added 27 and the Las Vegas Aces celebrated the return of All-Star point guard Chelsea Gray by defeating the Seattle Storm 94-83 on Wednesday night.

Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson (22) shoots in front of Seattle Storm center Ezi Magbegor (13) during the second half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson (22) shoots in front of Seattle Storm center Ezi Magbegor (13) during the second half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Las Vegas Aces guard Chelsea Gray (12) passes the ball while Seattle Storm guard Jordan Horston (23) defends during the second half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Las Vegas Aces guard Chelsea Gray (12) passes the ball while Seattle Storm guard Jordan Horston (23) defends during the second half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Seattle Storm forward Nneka Ogwumike, left, is defended by Las Vegas Aces center Megan Gustafson (17) during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Seattle Storm forward Nneka Ogwumike, left, is defended by Las Vegas Aces center Megan Gustafson (17) during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center Kiah Stokes (41) celebrates with guard Kelsey Plum (10) after scoring a 3-point basket against the Seattle Storm during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center Kiah Stokes (41) celebrates with guard Kelsey Plum (10) after scoring a 3-point basket against the Seattle Storm during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Seattle Storm center Ezi Magbegor, left, drives toward the hoop while Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson defends during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Seattle Storm center Ezi Magbegor, left, drives toward the hoop while Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson defends during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Las Vegas Aces guard Tiffany Hayes (15) shoots over Seattle Storm center Ezi Magbegor (13) during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces guard Tiffany Hayes (15) shoots over Seattle Storm center Ezi Magbegor (13) during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson (22) drives between Seattle Storm forward Nneka Ogwumike (3) and guard Skylar Diggins-Smith during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson (22) drives between Seattle Storm forward Nneka Ogwumike (3) and guard Skylar Diggins-Smith during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces coach Becky Hammon watches play during the first half of the team's WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces coach Becky Hammon watches play during the first half of the team's WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson (22) drives to the basket during the first half of the team's WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson (22) drives to the basket during the first half of the team's WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces guard Jackie Young (0) shoots a layup against Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd, left, center Ezi Magbegor (13) and guard Victoria Vivians (35) during the first half of an WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces guard Jackie Young (0) shoots a layup against Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd, left, center Ezi Magbegor (13) and guard Victoria Vivians (35) during the first half of an WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces guard Tiffany Hayes (15) and Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd (24) fight for the ball during the first half of an WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces guard Tiffany Hayes (15) and Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd (24) fight for the ball during the first half of an WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson (22) is congratulated by teammates Kiah Stokes (41) and Kelsey Plum (10) after scoring a basket and drawing a foul during the first half of an WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson (22) is congratulated by teammates Kiah Stokes (41) and Kelsey Plum (10) after scoring a basket and drawing a foul during the first half of an WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Seattle Storm coach Noelle Quinn calls out to players during the first half of the team's WNBA basketball game against the Las Vegas Aces on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Seattle Storm coach Noelle Quinn calls out to players during the first half of the team's WNBA basketball game against the Las Vegas Aces on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson, left, and Seattle Storm center Ezi Magbegor (13) vie for the ball during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson, left, and Seattle Storm center Ezi Magbegor (13) vie for the ball during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces guards Chelsea Gray (12) and Kelsey Plum (10) celebrate a play during the first half of an WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces guards Chelsea Gray (12) and Kelsey Plum (10) celebrate a play during the first half of an WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

“Man, I missed this game so much. Never taking it for granted,” Gray said. “It’s a long journey, lots of crying, lots of sleepless nights, a lot of conversations. I’m so thankful to be back on this court.”

Kelsey Plum scored 11 points for Las Vegas (7-6), which led by double figures from the 1:53 mark of the first quarter and by as many as 20 points. Tiffany Hayes had 10 points, and Alysha Clark added 10 off the bench.

Young missed her career-high by two points and Wilson had 16 in the fourth quarter, giving her 20 straight games with at least 20 points. The Aces shot 56% (35 of 63) for the game with 25 assists on the 35 baskets.

Nneka Ogwumike had 21 points for the Storm (9-6). Ezi Magbegor had 19 with 13 rebounds, Jordan Horston added 18 and Skylar Diggins-Smith had 10.

Seattle's Jewell Loyd, who led the league in scoring last season at more than 24 points a game and came in averaging just less than 20, missed nine shots and was held to a single point, ending a streak of 55 games in double figures. Loyd scored one point in a loss to Las Vegas on Aug. 7, 2022.

Gray entered the game to a standing ovation with 1:41 to play in the first quarter and 20 seconds later picked up the 1,500th assist of her career when Clark hit a 3-pointer to make it 26-13.

“A lot of love from the fans,” said Gray, the ninth WNBA player to reach 1,500 assists. “They were amazing.”

It was 29-16 at the end of the quarter.

With Young pouring in 19 points, the Aces led 47-32 at the half. Ogwumike had 12 points for the Storm, who had 10 turnovers and shot 41%.

The Aces led 59-40 in the third quarter when Plum hit a 3-pointer and followed with a layup. Wilson's layup made it 61-42. Ogwumike had a 3-pointer and Magbegor converted a 3-point play inside the final two minutes and the Storm closed within 66-54 entering the fourth quarter.

The lead was at 20 when Plum fed Wilson for a layup with 4:21 to go. Seattle had a surge to get it back to 11 with 2 1/2 minutes to play but got no closer.

AP WNBA: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-basketball

Las Vegas Aces coach Becky Hammon, front left, and players celebrate during a timeout in the first half of a WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Las Vegas Aces coach Becky Hammon, front left, and players celebrate during a timeout in the first half of a WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson (22) shoots in front of Seattle Storm center Ezi Magbegor (13) during the second half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson (22) shoots in front of Seattle Storm center Ezi Magbegor (13) during the second half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Las Vegas Aces guard Chelsea Gray (12) passes the ball while Seattle Storm guard Jordan Horston (23) defends during the second half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Las Vegas Aces guard Chelsea Gray (12) passes the ball while Seattle Storm guard Jordan Horston (23) defends during the second half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Seattle Storm forward Nneka Ogwumike, left, is defended by Las Vegas Aces center Megan Gustafson (17) during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Seattle Storm forward Nneka Ogwumike, left, is defended by Las Vegas Aces center Megan Gustafson (17) during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center Kiah Stokes (41) celebrates with guard Kelsey Plum (10) after scoring a 3-point basket against the Seattle Storm during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center Kiah Stokes (41) celebrates with guard Kelsey Plum (10) after scoring a 3-point basket against the Seattle Storm during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Seattle Storm center Ezi Magbegor, left, drives toward the hoop while Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson defends during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Seattle Storm center Ezi Magbegor, left, drives toward the hoop while Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson defends during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Las Vegas Aces guard Tiffany Hayes (15) shoots over Seattle Storm center Ezi Magbegor (13) during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces guard Tiffany Hayes (15) shoots over Seattle Storm center Ezi Magbegor (13) during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson (22) drives between Seattle Storm forward Nneka Ogwumike (3) and guard Skylar Diggins-Smith during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson (22) drives between Seattle Storm forward Nneka Ogwumike (3) and guard Skylar Diggins-Smith during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces coach Becky Hammon watches play during the first half of the team's WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces coach Becky Hammon watches play during the first half of the team's WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson (22) drives to the basket during the first half of the team's WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson (22) drives to the basket during the first half of the team's WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces guard Jackie Young (0) shoots a layup against Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd, left, center Ezi Magbegor (13) and guard Victoria Vivians (35) during the first half of an WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces guard Jackie Young (0) shoots a layup against Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd, left, center Ezi Magbegor (13) and guard Victoria Vivians (35) during the first half of an WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces guard Tiffany Hayes (15) and Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd (24) fight for the ball during the first half of an WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces guard Tiffany Hayes (15) and Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd (24) fight for the ball during the first half of an WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson (22) is congratulated by teammates Kiah Stokes (41) and Kelsey Plum (10) after scoring a basket and drawing a foul during the first half of an WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson (22) is congratulated by teammates Kiah Stokes (41) and Kelsey Plum (10) after scoring a basket and drawing a foul during the first half of an WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Seattle Storm coach Noelle Quinn calls out to players during the first half of the team's WNBA basketball game against the Las Vegas Aces on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Seattle Storm coach Noelle Quinn calls out to players during the first half of the team's WNBA basketball game against the Las Vegas Aces on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson, left, and Seattle Storm center Ezi Magbegor (13) vie for the ball during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson, left, and Seattle Storm center Ezi Magbegor (13) vie for the ball during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces guards Chelsea Gray (12) and Kelsey Plum (10) celebrate a play during the first half of an WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Las Vegas Aces guards Chelsea Gray (12) and Kelsey Plum (10) celebrate a play during the first half of an WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

YEKATERINBURG, Russia (AP) — Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was convicted Friday of espionage and sentenced to 16 years in a maximum-security prison on charges that his employer and the U.S. government have rejected as fabricated.

The swift conclusion of the secretive trial in Russia’s highly politicized legal system could potentially clear the way for a prisoner swap between Moscow and Washington.

Gershkovich, his head shaved and looking thin, was calm as he stood in a glass defendants’ cage in the Sverdlovsk Regional Court. He listened impassively to the verdict but gave an occasional smile. When Judge Andrei Mineyev asked him if he had any questions about the verdict, he replied “No, your honor.”

After Mineyev finished reading the verdict, someone in the courtroom shouted, “Evan, we love you!”

Closing arguments took place behind closed doors and Gershkovich did not admit any guilt, according to the court’s press service. Prosecutors requested an 18-year sentence, but the judge opted for a shorter term.

“This disgraceful, sham conviction comes after Evan has spent 478 days in prison, wrongfully detained, away from his family and friends, prevented from reporting, all for doing his job as a journalist," Dow Jones CEO and Wall Street Journal Publisher Almar Latour and Editor in Chief Emma Tucker said in a statement.

“We will continue to do everything possible to press for Evan’s release and to support his family. Journalism is not a crime, and we will not rest until he’s released. This must end now,” the statement added.

Gershkovich, 32, was arrested March 29, 2023, while on a reporting trip to the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg. Authorities claimed, without offering any evidence, that he was gathering secret information for the U.S.

He has been behind bars since his arrest, which will be counted as part of his sentence. Much of that was spent in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo Prison — a czarist-era lockup used during Josef Stalin’s purges, when executions were carried out in its basement. He was transferred to Yekaterinburg for the trial.

Gershkovich was the first U.S. journalist taken into custody on espionage charges since Nicholas Daniloff in 1986, at the height of the Cold War. Foreign journalists in Russia were shocked by Gershkovich’s arrest, even though the country has enacted increasingly repressive laws on freedom of speech after sending troops into Ukraine.

Unlike the trial's opening on June 26 in Yekaterinburg and previous hearings in Moscow in which reporters were allowed to see Gershkovich briefly before sessions began, there was no access to the courtroom on Thursday when the trial resumed, but media was allowed in court on Friday for the verdict. Espionage and treason cases are typically shrouded in secrecy.

Russian courts convict more than 99% of defendants, and prosecutors can appeal sentences that they regard as too lenient. They even can appeal acquittals.

The U.S. State Department has declared Gershkovich “wrongfully detained,” committing the government to assertively seek his release.

Asked Friday about a possible prisoner swap involving Gershkovich, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday at the United Nations that Moscow and Washington’s “special services” are discussing an exchange involving Gershkovich. Russia has previously signaled the possibility of a swap, but said a verdict would have to come first. Even after a verdict, any such deal could take months or years.

State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel on Thursday declined to discuss negotiations about a possible exchange, but said: “We have been clear from the get-go that Evan did nothing wrong and should not have been detained. To date, Russia has provided no evidence of a crime and has failed to justify Evan’s continued detention.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted earlier this year that he would be open to swapping Gershkovich for Vadim Krasikov, a Russian serving a life sentence for the 2019 killing in Berlin of a Georgian citizen of Chechen descent.

Lavrov on Wednesday reaffirmed the Kremlin claim that the government has “irrefutable evidence” against Gershkovich, although neither he nor any other Russian official has ever disclosed it.

Speaking to reporters after the verdict, prosecutor Mikael Ozdoyev reaffirmed that Gershkovich was accused of gathering secret information about production and repair of military equipment at Uralvagonzavod, a huge industrial plant about 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of Yekaterinburg that manufactures tanks. Ozdoyev repeated the claim that Gershkovich was acting on instructions from the CIA and tried to conceal his action.

U.S. officials have dismissed this as bogus.

“Evan has never been employed by the United States government. Evan is not a spy. Journalism is not a crime. And Evan should never have been detained in the first place,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said last month.

Russia’s interpretation of what constitutes high crimes like espionage and treason is broad, with authorities often going after people who share publicly available information with foreigners and accusing them of divulging state secrets.

Earlier this month, U.N. human rights experts said Russia violated international law by jailing Gershkovich and should release him “immediately.”

Arrests of Americans are increasingly common in Russia, with nine U.S. citizens known to be detained there as tensions between the two countries have escalated over fighting in Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield accused Moscow of treating “human beings as bargaining chips.” She singled out Gershkovich and ex-Marine Paul Whelan, 53, a corporate security director from Michigan, who is serving a 16-year sentence after being convicted on spying charges that he and the U.S. denied.

Since sending troops to Ukraine, Russian authorities have detained several U.S. nationals and other Westerners.

U.S. officials made an offer to swap Gershkovich last year that was rejected by Russia, and the Biden administration has not made public any possible deals since then.

The son of Soviet emigres who settled in New Jersey, Gershkovich was fluent in Russian and moved to the country in 2017 to work for The Moscow Times newspaper before being hired by the Journal in 2022.

Gershkovich had over a dozen closed hearings over the extension of his pretrial detention or appeals for his release. He was brought to the courthouse in handcuffs and appeared in the defendants cage, often smiling for the many cameras.

The periodic hearings gave his family, friends and U.S. officials a glimpse of him, and it was a break from his otherwise monotonous prison routine. But his mother, Ella Milman, said they also were a painful reminder that “he is not with us.”

Friends say that while he was in Lefortovo, Gershkovich was not allowed phone calls and was allowed out of his cell for only an hour a day to exercise. He usually spent the rest of his time reading books in English and Russian and writing letters to friends and family.

He relied on his sense of humor to get through the days, according to those close to him. From behind bars, he organized presents for friends on their birthdays.

As he entered his second year in captivity in March, Milman said he was “telling people not to freak out,” but she admitted the strain for friends and family was “taking a toll.”

The state prosecutor Mikael Ozdoev speaks to journalists after the court session inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

The state prosecutor Mikael Ozdoev speaks to journalists after the court session inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a courtroom inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo)

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a courtroom inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo)

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a courtroom inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo)

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a courtroom inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo)

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a courtroom inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a courtroom inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, second left, stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a courtroom inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, second left, stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a courtroom inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

FILE - This combination of photos shows Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich at the Moscow City Court in Moscow and the Sverdlovsk Regional Court in Yekaterinburg, from top left to right, on April 18, 2023, Sept. 19, 2023, Oct. 10, 2023, and from bottom left to right, on Dec. 14, 2023, April 23, 2024, June 26, 2024. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - This combination of photos shows Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich at the Moscow City Court in Moscow and the Sverdlovsk Regional Court in Yekaterinburg, from top left to right, on April 18, 2023, Sept. 19, 2023, Oct. 10, 2023, and from bottom left to right, on Dec. 14, 2023, April 23, 2024, June 26, 2024. (AP Photo, File)

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a courtroom inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a courtroom inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a courtroom inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a courtroom inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a courtroom inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a courtroom inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a courtroom inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands listening to the verdict in a glass cage of a courtroom inside the building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024. A Russian court convicted Gershkovich on espionage charges that his employer and the U.S. have rejected as fabricated. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a secretive and rapid trial in the country's highly politicized legal system. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Evan Gershkovich's lawyer Maria Korchagina walks inside the court building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024, during the trial of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich's suspected spying activities. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Evan Gershkovich's lawyer Maria Korchagina walks inside the court building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024, during the trial of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich's suspected spying activities. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Evan Gershkovich's lawyer Maria Korchagina, foreground, walks inside the court building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024, during the trial of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich's suspected spying activities. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Evan Gershkovich's lawyer Maria Korchagina, foreground, walks inside the court building of "Palace of justice," in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024, during the trial of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich's suspected spying activities. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

FILE - Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a courtroom in Yekaterinburg, Russia, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. Court officials say closing arguments in the espionage trial of U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich will be held Friday, July 19, 2024, as the proceedings picked up speed in a case that has seen the reporter held in pre-trial custody for over a year. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a courtroom in Yekaterinburg, Russia, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. Court officials say closing arguments in the espionage trial of U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich will be held Friday, July 19, 2024, as the proceedings picked up speed in a case that has seen the reporter held in pre-trial custody for over a year. (AP Photo, File)

The Lady Justice statue is seen through a traffic light atop of the court building with the words reading, "Palace of justice," on the front in Yekaterinburg, Russia Friday, July 19, 2024, ahead of the trial of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich's suspected spying activities. Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

The Lady Justice statue is seen through a traffic light atop of the court building with the words reading, "Palace of justice," on the front in Yekaterinburg, Russia Friday, July 19, 2024, ahead of the trial of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich's suspected spying activities. Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

People walk past the court building with the words reading, "Palace of justice," on the front in Yekaterinburg, Russia, Friday, July 19, 2024, prior to the trial of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich's suspected spying activities. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

People walk past the court building with the words reading, "Palace of justice," on the front in Yekaterinburg, Russia, Friday, July 19, 2024, prior to the trial of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich's suspected spying activities. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

A Russian Federal Bailiffs Service employee patrols around the court building with the words reading, "Palace of justice," on the front in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024, ahead of the trial of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich's suspected spying activities. Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

A Russian Federal Bailiffs Service employee patrols around the court building with the words reading, "Palace of justice," on the front in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Friday, July 19, 2024, ahead of the trial of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich's suspected spying activities. Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

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