OAN Roy Francis
UPDATED 1:18 PM – Thursday, March 30, 2023
Wall Street Journal reporter, Evan Gershkovich, was detained on Thursday by the Federal Security Service (FSB) on suspicion of “espionage in the interests of the American government.”
State media reported that Gershkovich was detained in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg. He was accused of collecting “information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex.”
The FSB has provided no evidence to back the charges that were levelled against the reporter. He was then taken to the Lefortovo court in Moscow where he was formally arrested. The court also ordered his detention until May 29th.
Gershkovich, the first journalist from an American organization to be arrested on espionage charges in Russia since the Cold War, has denied all charges. If convicted, he is facing up to 20 years in Russian prison.
Kremlin spokesman Dimtry Peskov spoke about the arrest and that the reporter was “arrested red-handed.”
“We are not talking about suspicions,” he said “But about the fact that he was detained red-handed.”
The FSB said that he had accreditation to work as a journalist from the Russian Foreign Ministry. However, ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, claimed that he was using his credentials as a cover for “activities that have nothing to do with journalism.”
The Wall Street Journal released a statement regarding the arrest saying that it “vehemently denies the allegations” and asking for the “immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter. We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he was “deeply concerned” about the arrest, and that the Biden administration was in contact with the Wall Street Journal.
“In the strongest possible terms, we condemn the Kremlin’s continued attempts to intimidate, repress, and punish journalists and civil society voices,” he said.
Gershkovich worked for the Wall Street Journal covering Russia, Ukraine, and the former Soviet Union. He had previously worked as a reporter for the Agence France-Press, and the Moscow Times, as well as a news assistant at The New York Times.
The arrest comes as tensions between Moscow and Washington are at an all time high due to the war in Ukraine, as well as Chinese Leader Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Gershkovich now joins Paul Whelan who has been in Russian captivity since 2018 on charges of espionage. In June 2020, Whelan had received a 16-year prison sentence.
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