An undated ID photo of journalist Evan Gershkovich. – A US reporter for The Wall Street Journal newspaper has been arrested in Russia for espionage, Russian news agencies reported on Thursday, citing the security services of the FSB.
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Russian authorities plan to detain an American journalist working for the Wall Street Journal for two months.
Reporter Evan Gershkovich was arrested on suspicion of espionage, according to the Russian Federal Security Service. Shortly thereafter, a Moscow court ordered Gershkovich’s detention to last until May 29, the Journal reported, citing local reports.
Gershkovich’s imprisonment escalates already high tensions between the US and Russia. The US government is spending billions to help defend Ukraine against invading Russian forces.
White House and State Department officials spoke to the Journal Wednesday night about Gershkovich’s detention, according to a statement by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. The Biden administration is also in contact with Gershkovich’s family, and the State Department is in direct contact with the Russian government, Jean-Pierre said.
Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said in a statement his agency had sought “consular access” to Gershkovich.
“We strongly condemn the Kremlin’s continued attempts to intimidate, repress and punish journalists and civil society voices,” Blinken said.
The FSB claimed that Gershkovich “collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of Russia’s military-industrial complex.” Gershkovich pleaded not guilty to the espionage charge The Russian state news agency Tass. If convicted, Gershkovich faces up to 20 years in prison.
Daniil Berman, the attorney for arrested Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, speaks to journalists near Lefortovsky Court in Moscow, Russia, Thursday March 30, 2023. Russia’s top security agency says a US Wall Street Journal reporter has been arrested on espionage charges.
Alexander Zemlianichenko | AP
The Wall Street Journal vehemently denied the allegations, adding that she called for “the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter.”
“We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family,” the Journal said.
Since January 2022, Gershkovich worked for the journal in Moscow. Before that he reported in the country for Agence France-Presse and The Moscow Times and as news assistant for The New York Times.
Gershkovich’s most recent article, published with a co-byline on Tuesday, was headlined, “Russia’s economy begins to crumble.”
According to a 2022 index, Russia is one of the countries with the worst press freedom in the world Reporters Without Borders, a non-profit advocacy group. According to the organization, things have gotten worse since Russia began invading Ukraine in early 2022.
The country’s government has a long history of harassing journalists, including jailing foreigners on allegations of espionage that appear to be more politically motivated.
Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw one significant crackdown about freedom of expression and political dissent.
Both Blinken and Jean-Pierre stressed the importance of continuing to heed the US government’s warning regarding US citizens living in or traveling to Russia.
“US citizens residing or traveling in Russia should depart immediately, as the State Department continues to recommend,” Blinken said.
Source : www.cnbc.com