Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is the first US reporter arrested on espionage charges in Russia since the Cold War.
Gershkovich was arrested by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) on charges of spying on behalf of the US government in order to obtain classified information. The agency didn’t say when the arrest took place.
They claimed that Gershkovich was “acting on the US orders to collect information about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military industrial complex that constitutes a state secret.”
The 31-year-old reporter, based at Wall Street Journal’s Moscow bureau, covered Russian news. This is the most serious public action against a foreign journalist by Moscow since Russia invaded Ukraine.
The FSB said Gershkovich had legal accreditation from the Russian Foreign Ministry to work as a journalist in the country. The Wall Street Journal reporter previously worked as a reporter for the Moscow Times and speaks fluent Russian.
Gershkovich could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.
The Wall Street Journal said it was “deeply concerned for the safety” of its reporter and “vehemently denies all allegations from the FSB and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter, Evan Gershkovich.”
The last time an incident like this happened was in 1986, when Nicholas Daniloff, a U.S. News and World Report journalist, was arrested by the KGB. Daniloff spent 13 days in Lefortovo Prison and 17 days on parole in the American Embassy in Moscow.
“I learned firsthand what every Soviet citizen knows—that an individual is helpless in the grip of the KGB,” Daniloff wrote in a personal account of his time in a KGB prison for U.S. News. “And I experienced what every American should know and too seldom appreciates—that in our own system, the rights of the individual do matter. Because of that, because of the American government and American people rallied to me and stood for me, I am a free man again today.”
Gershkovich was reportedly found in the Ural Mountains of Yekaterinburg at the time of the arrest. However, Russian Foreign Military spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that what Gershkovich was doing in Yekaterinburg had “nothing to do with journalism.”
According to Zakharova, this isn’t the first time a foreign correspondent has used a journalistic visa to cover up activities that are not journalism.
Gershkovich’s last story from Moscow, published earlier this week, focused on the Russian economy and the slowdown it was experiencing due to the western sanctions established when Russian troops invaded Ukraine last year.
Gershkovich pleaded not guilty in a closed session of a Moscow court on Thursday. The court ruled he would be held in pre-trial custody until May 29.
The US Embassy, not informed of the incident, is getting involved in the conversation and is seeking information about the arrest from Russian authorities.
Edited by Sean Mulryan
Share This Post On
Leave a comment
You need to login to leave a comment. Log-in