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Russian Authorities Detain Wall Street Journal Correspondent For Espionage

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Russian Authorities Detain Wall Street Journal Correspondent For Espionage

The Wall Street Journal’s US correspondent has been detained on espionage charges by Russia’s top security service, marking the first time since the Cold War that a US correspondent has been imprisoned on such grounds.

Evan Gershkovich

According to the Federal Security Service, Evan Gershkovich was apprehended near Yekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains while reportedly attempting to obtain classified information.

The WSJ expressed its serious worry about Mr. Gershkovich’s safety in a statement.

We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family,” the statement vehemently denies the allegations” and is seeking Mr. Gershkovich’s immediate release.

He is the first American journalist to be detained in Russia on suspicion of espionage since the KGB detained Nicholas Daniloff, a Moscow correspondent for US News and World Report, in September 1986.

In exchange for a Soviet Union UN employee who had been detained by the FBI, he was released without trial 20 days later.

The senior KGB-replacing agency, the FSB, claimed that Mr. Gershkovich “was acting on American directions to gather information about the activities of one of the firms of the Russian military-industrial complex that represents a state secret.”

The organization omitted to provide a date for the arrest. If Mr. Gershkovich is found guilty of espionage, he may spend up to 20 years in prison.

The arrest takes place when Russia and the United States are at odds over the fighting in Ukraine.

Mr. Gershkovich, who is proficient in Russian, has previously worked for the New York Times and the French news organization Agence France-Presse. He is a correspondent for the WSJ’s Moscow desk, where he focuses on Russia, Ukraine, and other former Soviet states.

The Russian Foreign Ministry had permitted him to operate as a journalist, as noted by the FSB, but Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for the ministry, claimed Mr. Gershkovich was using his journalistic credentials as a cover for “activities that have nothing to do with journalism.”

His last report from Moscow, published earlier this week, focused on the Russian economy’s slowdown amid western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.

Mr. Gershkovich’s arrest follows a swap in December in which US basketball star Brittney Griner was freed after 10 months behind bars in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Another American, corporate security executive Paul Whelan, has been imprisoned in Russia since December 2018 on espionage charges which his family and the US government have said are baseless.

Jeanne Cavelier, head of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk at the Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, said Mr. Gershkovich is the first foreign journalist to be arrested in Russia since the start of the war in Ukraine.

“It looks like a retaliation measure of Russia against the United States, so we are very alarmed because it is probably a way to intimidate all western journalists that are trying to investigate aspects of the war on the ground in Russia,” she told the Associated Press.

“The western powers should immediately ask for clarifications on the charges, because as far as we know he was just doing his job as a journalist.”

Russian journalist Dmitry Kolezev said he had spoken to Mr. Gershkovich before his trip to Yekaterinburg.

Russian journalist Dmitry Kolezev said he had spoken to Mr. Gershkovich before his trip to Yekaterinburg.

“He was preparing for the usual, albeit rather dangerous in current conditions, journalist work,” Mr. Kolezev wrote. He added that Mr. Gershkovich had asked him for the contacts of local journalists and officials in the area as he prepared to arrange interviews.

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