Russia, arrested WSJ journalist accused of espionage. White House: “Unacceptable”

The Lefortovo Court in Moscow has commuted the detention of the American journalist from Wall Street Journal, Evan Gershkovich. The state of arrest will last at least two months, until 29 May. The 32-year-old had been arrested in Ekaterinburg, Russia, on charges of espionage which, on the basis of article 276 of the Criminal Code, provides for sentences of up to 20 years in prison. Gershkovich, reports la tax, in court he pleaded not guilty. While the wsj calls for the journalist’s immediate release, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned “in the harshest terms” for “the Kremlin’s continued attempts to intimidate, repress and punish journalists and voices of civil society”, underlining that the State Department is in contact with the US newspaper. White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre called the news of Gershkovich’s arrest “disturbing” and the allegations “ridiculous”. She then said that “it is unacceptable that the Russian government targets American citizens.” All American citizens who are in Russia must leave the country immediately, the White House demands.

Who is Gershkovich?

The reporter, whose parents live in the United States but are originally from the former Soviet Union, speaks Russian. Before being hired at Wall Street Journal he had worked for the agency afp and for the Russian masthead in English Moscow Times. The American newspaper says it is “deeply concerned” and calls for the immediate release of the journalist: “The Wall Street Journal vehemently rejects the allegations of the Russian security services and calls for the immediate release of Evan Gershkovich, a reliable and conscientious journalist”. the paper said in a statement. “We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family.”

FSB statement

Russian secret services “stopped illegal activities of Wall Street Journal correspondent, US citizen Evan Gershkovich,” reports the agency Ria Novosti citing the FSB statement. The journalist was arrested in Yekaterinburg and is accused of “espionage”. According to Russian intelligence, the reporter “on instruction from the United States, was collecting information on one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex, which are a state secret.”

Media: “Gershkovich had been in the city where tanks are produced”

In addition to Ekaterinburg, Gershkovich had traveled to Nizhny Tagil, another Russian city where there is a plant of the Uralvagonzavod defense industry, which produces tanks. The independent site writes it Meduza quoting “Western journalists working in Moscow”. Local media in the Ural region cite a fixer, Yaroslav Shirshikov, who accompanied the journalist on his visit to Ekaterinburg. According to Shirshikov, Gershkovich had traveled to this city to gather information on the attitude of the population towards the conflict in Ukraine and the Wagner military company. Requested for comment by a reporter from the Daily beastWagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin sarcastically replied: “If you want I can check the torture room in my house to see if he’s here, but I don’t think I’ve seen him among the dozens of American journalists I keep there.” . Yesterday, he writes Meduza, a rumor had spread that a man had been stopped by security forces in the Bukowski Grill restaurant in Yekaterinburg and taken away with his head covered in a sweater. According to Shirshikov it was the American journalist.

Moscow: “WSJ reporter activity was not journalism”

What the American journalist of the Wall Street Journal that he was detained “has nothing to do with journalism,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on her Telegram channel. “Unfortunately,” she added, “it is not the first time that the ‘foreign correspondent’ status, journalist visa and accreditation are being used by foreigners in our country to cover activities that are not journalism. This is not the first known Western to be ‘pinched'”. “There is no mention of suspects, he was caught red-handed”, added Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who hoped that the US would not retaliate: “Let’s hope this doesn’t happen, and it mustn’t happen”.

Moscow: “Possible exchange for Gershkovich not yet discussed”

The question of a possible exchange of prisoners with the US “has not yet been discussed”. This was stated by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov quoted by tax. When asked about it, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov replied: “I don’t have any information, I have nothing to say about it.” The question referred to a possible exchange with Serghei Cherkasov, a Russian detained in Brazil and recently indicted in the US on charges of being an agent of the Russian intelligence services.

Gershkovich is the first US journalist arrested since the Cold War

Gershkovich is the first US journalist arrested in Russia for espionage since the Cold War. In 1986, reporter Nick Daniloff ended up in handcuffs on a similar charge: “In my case, the FBI had arrested a Soviet man in New York for espionage and the Russians arrested me,” Daniloff told the Cnn. He added that the negotiation had ultimately secured his release, with a “solution for the man who was arrested in New York.” At the time Ronald Reagan was president of the United States, Russia was part of the Soviet Union and relations were very tense. Daniloff was arrested at the end of his assignment for Us News and World Report, spent weeks in solitary confinement before the Reagan administration negotiated his release. Speaking at a press conference after his release in ’86, Daniloff called the situation “very complex,” noting that without President Reagan’s “deep and personal interest” in his case, he would have been in prison much longer. time.