Photo: DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP / Getty Images
The government of US President Joe Biden formally determined this Monday that the Wall Street Journal reporter, Evan Gershkovich, arrested in Russia on espionage charges, was “wrongly detained.”
The designation elevates the case of journalist Gershkovich in the Biden administration hierarchy and means that a dedicated State Department office will take the lead in securing his release as soon as possible.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the determination on Monday, saying he condemned Russia’s arrest and crackdown on independent media.
“Today, Secretary Blinken determined that Evan Gershkovich was wrongfully detained by Russia,” the department said in a statement. “Journalism is not a crime. We condemn the Kremlin’s continued crackdown on independent voices in Russia and its ongoing war on the truth.”
On April 4, Evan Gershkovich’s lawyers were able to meet him in a Moscow prison, almost a week after he was arrested.
“Evan’s health is good and he is grateful for the tremendous amount of support from around the world. We continue to call for his immediate release.” reported at the time the editor-in-chief of the Wall Street JournalEmma Tucker, in a newsroom note.
Russian authorities arrested Gershkovich, 31, in Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city, on March 29. He is the first US correspondent to be arrested for alleged espionage since the Cold War..
The Federal Security Service specifically accused Gershkovich of trying to obtain classified information about a Russian arms factory, but The Wall Street Journal has denied the allegations against its reporter.
The State Department said the US government will provide “all appropriate support to Mr. Gershkovich and his family,” and again called on Russia to release him and another detained US citizen, Paul Whelan.
Wall Street Journal reporter indicted for espionage in Russia
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