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US Journalist Detained In Russia For Spying Allegations

Wall Street Journal Journalist Evan Gershkovich Arrested In Yekaterinburg


May 31, 2023

By Alya Satchu

CHICAGO — American journalist, Evan Gershkovich, was arrested by Russia’s Federal Security Service in late March, and is set to be detained through August. Gershkovich, who was arrested on espionage charges, is currently being held in the infamous Moscow Prison, Lefortovo Prison. US Ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, visited Gershkovich on April 17. The U.S. Embassy reported to CBS News and quoted Tracy by saying that Gershkovich “is in good health and remains strong.”

Last month, the State Department officially determined that Gershkovich was wrongfully detained by Russia. This designation means that his case will be overseen by the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, giving the government ample resources to guarantee his release.

In a joint statement, US Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, and US House Minority Leader, Hakeem Jeffries, denounced the unlawful detention of Gershkovich and demanded his release. McCarthy and Jefferies also called for the release of American businessman Paul Whelan who was also arrested for spying charges and is serving a 16-year sentence. The Republican and Democrat House leaders stated that “Russia has failed to provide any credible evidence to justify” these arrests and charges. The statement noted that the detention of Gershkovich is “another deeply concerning attack on freedom of the press across the globe.” The two congressional leaders also condemned the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin for “using Soviet-style show trials” to incarcerate them wrongfully.

While imprisoned, Gershkovich is able to receive mail written only in Russian, so censors can read them. Friends and fellow journalists organized a letter-writing campaign to provide a sense of support and companionship. One organizer of the campaign, Polina Invanova, has worked in Russia for the Financial Times. She and a group of volunteers work to compile the letters, package them, bring them to Russian post offices, and mail them to Lefortovo Prison.

Ivanova told NBC News that in Gershkovich’s first response to the campaign, he expressed “how important these letters are for him.” In another statement communicated through Gershkovich’s Russian legend team on April 28, Gershkovich said he is “humbled and deeply touched” by the campaign. Any person who is interested in writing a letter to Gershkovich in this trying time can do so using this link:

Julia Wysokinska, Deputy Director of Media Relations at Teens for Press Freedom, commented, “It is vital that we stand up for journalists who are being persecuted with attempts to silence their journalism. Politicians should work to free Gershkovich and those who support a free press should make their discontent heard.”


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