Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has appeared in a Russian courtroom to appeal against his pre-trial detention.

The reporter was formally charged with spying in Russia earlier this month and has been held at the notorious Lefortovo prison in Moscow since.

He faces up to 20 years behind bars if convicted.

On Tuesday, the 31-year-old stood in a glass box inside the courtroom with his arms crossed and did not say anything.

The appeal hearing will determine whether he be held in pre-trial detention until at least 29 May.

On his arrest, Russia’s Federal Security Service accused him of trying to obtain classified information about a Russian arms factory.

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He became the first reporter for an American news outlet to be arrested on espionage charges in Russia since the Cold War and has always “categorically” denied the allegations.

Sky News correspondent John Sparks said the case today is around his pre-trial detention rather than the “substance of his charges”.

“I assume his lawyers will be trying to get an alternative custody arrangement for him,” he said.

“I think that he is realistically looking at spending a significant period of time in a Russian prison at the moment.”

The Wall Street Journal previously said it was “deeply concerned” for its reporter’s safety.