Evan Gershkovich: Wall Street Journal reporter appeals against arrest in Russia



Detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has filed an appeal against his arrest in Russia, the Russian state news agency TASS reported Monday.

The agency cited the press service of the Lefortovo Court of Moscow, which took the American journalist into custody last week.

Gershkovich is currently being held in a pre-trial detention center at the notorious Lefortovo prison until May 29. He faces up to 20 years in prison on espionage charges. The Wall Street Journal has vehemently denied the spying accusations against Gershkovich.

No date for hearing the appeal has been set.

Gershkovich’s arrest last week – the first detention of an American reporter in Russia on allegations of spying since the Cold War – highlighted the Kremlin’s clampdown on media freedoms and the operations of foreign news outlets since Moscow invaded Ukraine last year.

It also sharpened relations between Moscow and the United States. US President Joe Biden has been blunt about Gershkovich’s arrest, urging Russia to “let him go.”

Russia’s main security service, the FSB, claimed that Gershkovich, a correspondent based in Moscow, had been trying to obtain state secrets. The Wall Street Journal categorically rejected the accusation, saying in a statement that it “vehemently denies the allegations from the FSB and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed his arrest on Sunday, according to a statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

During the phone call, initiated by the American side, Lavrov told Blinken that Gershkovich’s fate would be determined by a Russian court, the statement said.

The Journal’s editor-in-chief, Emma Tucker, said Sunday that the call between Blinken and Lavrov was “hugely reassuring.”

“We know that the US government is taking the case very seriously right up to the top,” she told CBS News.

Gershkovich covers Russia, Ukraine and the former Soviet Union, according to his biography on the Wall Street Journal’s website. He previously worked for news agency Agence France-Presse, the Moscow Times and the New York Times.

In December, the US secured the release of basketball star Brittney Griner, detained last year on what the US described as trumped-up drug smuggling charges, in a prisoner swap for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. But the swap did not include another American whom the State Department has declared to be unlawfully detained, Paul Whelan.

In an email to the press Thursday after Gershkovich’s arrest, Paul’s brother David Whelan said: “Our family is sorry to hear that another American family will have to experience the same trauma that we have had to endure for the past 1,553 days.”


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