The United Nations (UN) is alarmed by the rising trend of espionage and treason arrests in Russia since its invasion of Ukraine. According to UN human rights experts, there were 16 convictions for such charges in 2022.
In 2023, at least 43 others have faced similar charges. UN rapporteurs Mariana Katzarova and Irene Khan expressed these concerns following the arrest of Wall Street Journal reporter, Evan Gershkovich, in Russia.
Russian law carries a maximum 20-year sentence for espionage, but amendments signed by President Putin now allow for a life sentence for “high treason“. Treason and espionage trials in Russia are conducted privately due to the sensitive nature of the cases.
President Joe Biden recently indicated his seriousness in pursuing a prisoner exchange that involves Gershkovich. The growing number of such arrests is seen as a troubling trend by the UN, given the seriousness of the charges and the lack of public scrutiny.