Following a Moscow court’s decision to extend the imprisonment of the journalist, the United States repeated its demands on Thursday that Russia release Wall Street Journal correspondent Evan Gershkovich and another American who is being held. Evan Gershkovich is not guilty of the allegations made against him. We once more urge Russia to release Paul Whelan, a US citizen who was unlawfully imprisoned, as well as Evan, who has been held captive.
The session was attended by Gershkovich, who was detained in March on suspicion of espionage, a charge he has vigorously rejected. He was led outside while wearing handcuffs, slacks, sneakers, and a shirt after arriving in a white prison van. Following the court’s ruling, the Wall Street Journal released a statement saying, “We are deeply disappointed he continues to be arbitrarily and wrongfully detained for doing his job as a journalist.”
“The slanderous allegations made against him are totally untrue, and we will keep advocating for his quick release. There is no crime of journalism. Gershkovich was detained by Russian police in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg in late March on suspicion of attempting to gather sensitive information about a Russian military industry.
His imprisonment has taken place as tensions between the United States and Russia over the Russian war in Ukraine have risen, and supporters have said that Moscow’s arrest of him is a part of a larger crackdown on media outlets as it advances with the invasion of its neighbor. However, according to the Russian government, Gershkovich “violated the laws of the Russian Federation and was caught red-handed.” The US reporter “acted on the instructions of the American side, collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex,” according to the country’s Federal Security Service.
The accusations have been brushed off by Gershkovich’s legal team and backers as being without merit. The US Department of State officially declared Gershkovich to have been “wrongfully detained” in April and urged Russia to free him right away. However, on June 22, a Russian judge denied Gershkovich’s request for release from custody prior to trial. Following that choice, Lynne Tracy, the US ambassador to Russia, charged Moscow with engaging in “hostage diplomacy”.
Since the start of his imprisonment, Tracy has spoken to Gershkovich three times. The ambassador reported he seemed “in good health” after her most recent visit earlier this month. Through a spokesperson at the time, Tracy said, “Once more, the United States calls on the Russian Federation to immediately release Evan Gershkovich.” She also demanded the release of former US Marine Paul Whelan, who is now held in Russia on suspicion of spying for the United States, a claim he has repeatedly denied. In the instance of Gershkovich, Russia has stated that such prisoner exchanges may only be discussed following a court decision and through a unique channel run by the security services.
The nation has already approved high-profile trades, most memorably Brittney Griner, a US basketball star who had been convicted of a narcotics offense in Russia, for Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout in December 2022.