Evan Gershkovich arrested in Russia, Blinken calls Lavrov

The US secretary of state had a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart to discuss the situation of the Wall Street Journal reporter

The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, today had a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to discuss the situation of Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich, detained in Russia “for espionage”.

According to Lavrov, Gershkovich was “caught in the act while trying to obtain secret information classified as a state secret, taking advantage of his status as a journalist,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Moscow – it was announced again – believes that there are “proven facts of the illegal activities of the US citizen” and recalls that his arrest was notified to the US embassy in Moscow according to established procedures. “His fate will be decided by the court.”

Lavrov therefore called on the US authorities to “respect the decisions of the Russian authorities taken in accordance with the law and international obligations”. “It is unacceptable that the authorities in Washington and the Western media create a stir with the obvious intention of giving this case a political connotation,” comments the Russian Foreign Ministry. The talks, Lavrov underlined, were requested by the American side and also served “to address some issues typical of the bilateral relationship”.

The State Department said the talk was an occasion for Blinken to express “his grave concern” about Gershkovich’s “unacceptable detention.” Blinken has called for the journalist’s immediate release as well as that of Paul Whelan, the former Marine sentenced to 16 years on espionage charges.

“The secretary of state and the foreign secretary also spoke of the importance of creating an environment that allows diplomatic missions to do their work,” the State Department statement read.