More than 30 media outlets, press freedom groups call for Russia to release WSJ reporter

The Wall Street Journal via AP
The Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich is shown in this undated photo. Russia’s security service arrested the American reporter on espionage charges, the first time a U.S. correspondent has been detained on spying accusations since the Cold War, the Federal Security Service, known by the acronym FSB, said March 30, 2023. The newspaper denied the allegations and demanded his release.

More than 30 media outlets and press freedom advocacy organizations called for the immediate release of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich in a letter to Russia’s ambassador, saying his arrest this week was “unwarranted and unjust.”

The letter, spearheaded by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), was sent to the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov in Washington, D.C., on Thursday following news of Gershkovich’s arrest in Russia on charges of espionage.

“Gershkovich is a journalist, not a spy, and should be released immediately and without conditions,” the organizations wrote. “Gershkovich’s unwarranted and unjust arrest is a significant escalation in your government’s anti-press actions.”

“Russia is sending the message that journalism within your borders is criminalized and that foreign correspondents seeking to report from Russia do not enjoy the benefits of the rule of law,” the letter continued.

The letter was signed by the executive editors of several global media outlets, including The Washington Post, Bloomberg News, The New York Times, BBC, The New Yorker and The Guardian.

Advocacy organizations such as the International Press Institute and PEN America were also signatories.

Gershkovich was arrested in the city of Yekaterinburg by Russia’s Federal Security Service, which accused him of working on behalf of the U.S. government to collect a state secret on the nation’s military industrial complex.

The Wall Street Journal, also a signatory of the letter to the Russian ambassador, has rejected the allegations.

The U.S. has condemned the arrest of Gershkovich and called the charges against him “ridiculous.”

President Biden on Friday said Russia should “let him go.”

Gershkovich, 31, has worked for The Journal since January 2022 and is a reporter for the newspaper’s Moscow bureau.

He has written about Russia’s war in Ukraine, including the impact of western sanctions on the Russian economy and the recent visit of Chinese leader Xi Jinping to Moscow.

The arrest of Gershkovich marks the first detention of a U.S. journalist in Russia since 1986 as tensions have soared between Washington and Moscow amid the Ukraine war.

Signatories in the letter said an “urgent first step” should be to grant Gershkovich access to his attorney and his family.

Tags Anatoly Antonov Bloomberg Committee to Protect Journalists Evan Gershkovich Moscow New York Times Russia Wall Street Journal Washington Post

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