The Wall Street Journal's parent company on Tuesday requested that a panel of UN experts declare its correspondent Evan Gershkovich, who is in Russian jail, as being "arbitrarily detained."
Gershkovich, a US reporter, was detained in March during a reporting trip to the Urals and accused of spying -- charges that he, the US government and his employer The Wall Street Journal vehemently deny.
His pre-trial custody had been due to expire on August 30, but several days prior a judge ruled it would be extended to November 30, a decision criticized by the WSJ and US State Department.
"Today is day 167 of Evans' wrongful detention," Jason Conti, executive vice president and general counsel at Dow Jones, told a press conference.
Gershkovich, unlike many Western reporters, had continued to report from Russia during Moscow's offensive in Ukraine.
His case marks the first time a Western journalist has been arrested on espionage charges in Russia since the Soviet era.
"Today, we filed a petition with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. The idea is to ask the working group to urgently declare an opinion declaring Evan as having been arbitrarily detained," Conti said.
"The idea is in essence that his international rights have been violated, that this is nothing more than hostage diplomacy," Conti added.
In the letter to the task force, which Dow Jones posted on its website, it said that Russia "is not imprisoning Gershkovich because it legitimately believes its absurd claim that he is an American spy."
Rather, it alleges, "Russian President Vladimir Putin is using Gershkovich as a pawn, holding him hostage in order to gain leverage over -- and extract a ransom from --the United States."
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, an independent panel composed of five experts, investigates alleged cases of arbitrary detention, as mandated by the UN Human Rights Council.