The targeting of American citizens by the Russian government is unacceptable. We condemn the detention of Mr. Gershkovich in the strongest terms.White House Press Secretary in a statement on the detainment of a Wall Street Journal reporter, Evan Gershkovich, 31, who was arrested in Russia on charges of espionage.
Who: U.S. citizen Evan Gershkovich, 31, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal in Russia. His most recent article, published on Tuesday, was titled: Russia's Economy Is Starting to Come Undone. The Wall Street Journal notes Gershkovich "is accredited to work as a journalist in Russia by the country’s Foreign Ministry."
What: Gershovich was arrested in Russia on charges of spying on behalf of the American government; a Moscow court has ruled to keep him in detention as the investigation occurs. On Thursday, Jean-Pierre noted that "the State Department has been in direct touch with the Russian government on this matter, including actively working to secure consular access to Mr. Gershkovich." This is the first time an American journalist has been detained in Russia on accusations of spying since 1986.
Where: Gershkovich was detained in the Russian city of Yetaterinburg, which is about 1,000 miles east of Moscow. He has pled not guilty in a court in Moscow, according to Russian state media, which said his case is "top secret."
When: Wednesday March 29, 2023, "while on a reporting trip," per The Wall Street Journal.
Why: Russia's main security agency, the Federal Security Bureau (FSB), arrested Gershkovich on charges of espionage. The FSB said he was "acting at the behest of the American side" and "collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex," offering no further details or evidence. The Wall Street Journal "vehemently denies the allegations from the FSB and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter, Evan Gershkovich," stating, "We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family."
Big Picture: This arrest comes as tensions between the U.S. and Russia have risen amid the war in Ukraine and mark "the first time a U.S. correspondent has been detained on spying accusations since the Cold War," The Associated Press reports, also noting that it also comes "as the Kremlin intensifies a crackdown on opposition activists, independent journalists and civil society groups."
What's Next? The coming investigation is expected to take up to 18 months, with the trial to be conducted behind closed doors. If convicted, Gershkovich could face up to 20 years in prison. A top Russian official has said it is too soon to consider a prisoner swap for his return.
Russian Court Orders Wall Street Journal Reporter to Be Held in Custody (The Wall Street Journal)
Russia arrests Wall Street Journal reporter on spying charge (The Associated Press)
by Jenna Lee,