Wall Street Journal says reporter’s arrest in Russia is ‘vicious affront to a free press’
The Wall Street Journal slammed the detainment of its reporter in Russia as a “vicious affront to a free press” and reiterated its call for him to be immediately released.
The Journal said in a statement on Saturday that Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested on Thursday on charges of espionage in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, is a “distinguished journalist.”
“We know what’s going on in the world because of the fearless reporting of journalists like Evan. Evan’s case is a vicious affront to a free press, and should spur outrage in all free people and governments throughout the world,” the Journal said. “No reporter should ever be detained for simply doing their job.”
The Russian Federal Security Service, the main successor agency to the Soviet-era KGB, accused Gershkovich of trying to obtain classified information, acting on orders from the United States to “collect information about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military industrial complex that constitutes a state secret.”
The Journal and the U.S. government have denied the allegations and called for Gershkovich to be released.
“In the strongest possible terms, we condemn the Kremlin’s continued attempts to intimidate, repress, and punish journalists and civil society voices,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
Gershkovich reportedly pleaded not guilty to the charges, but he could face up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted. Russia’s criminal justice system has been internationally criticized as unfair, with a more than 99 percent conviction rate.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has claimed that Gershkovich used his journalism credentials to take actions “that have nothing to do with journalism.”
Gershkovich is the first U.S. reporter to be arrested on espionage charges in Russia since 1986, during the Cold War.
His detainment comes as the Russian war against Ukraine has continued for more than a year. Russia has criticized the U.S. and other Western countries for providing support to Ukraine during the war.
White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that the U.S. embassy in Moscow is trying to gain consulate access to Gershkovich.
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