Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich charged with espionage by Russia

Journalist denies accusations, saying he was engaged in journalistic activities

The Wall Street Journal has demanded the release of Evan Gershkovich, saying he is a 'trusted and dedicated reporter'. AFP
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Moscow has formally charged Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich with espionage, Russian news agencies reported on Friday, adding that the journalist had denied the accusations.

Russia's Federal Security Service, the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, said on March 30 that it had detained Gershkovich in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg and had opened an espionage case against the 31-year-old for collecting what it said were state secrets about the military industrial complex.

“Gershkovich has been charged,” Interfax quoted a source as saying.

Tass reported that FSB investigators had formally charged Gershkovich with carrying out espionage in the interests of the US, but that he had denied the charge.

“He categorically denied all the accusations and stated that he was engaged in journalistic activities in Russia,” Tass citied an unidentified source as saying.

The Journal has denied Gershkovich was spying and demanded the immediate release of its “trusted and dedicated reporter”.

The newspaper also said his arrest was “a vicious affront to a free press, and should spur outrage in all free people and governments throughout the world”.

Gershkovich is the first American journalist detained in Russia on espionage charges since the end of the Cold War.

The Kremlin said that Gershkovich had been carrying out espionage “under the cover” of journalism. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the US that Gershkovich was caught red-handed while trying to obtain secrets.

US President Joe Biden called for Gershkovich's release on Friday, with the White House calling the accusations against him “ridiculous”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has yet to comment publicly on the case.

A fluent Russian speaker born to Soviet emigres and raised in New Jersey, Gershkovich moved to Moscow in late 2017 to join the English-language Moscow Times, and subsequently worked for the French national news agency Agence France-Presse.

Russia announced the start of its “special military operation” in February 2022, just as Gershkovich was in London, about to return to Russia to join the Journal's Moscow bureau.

It was decided that he would live in London but travel to Russia frequently for reporting trips, as a correspondent accredited with the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Updated: April 07, 2023, 6:02 PM