Evan Gershkovich: US classifies journalist as 'wrongfully detained' by Russia

State Department says Moscow has breached international law by not allowing consular access to Wall Street Journal reporter

US journalist Evan Gershkovich. The Wall Street Journal / Reuters
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The US on Monday officially classified The Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained” and called for his immediate release from prison.

“Journalism is not a crime. We condemn the Kremlin’s continued repression of independent voices in Russia and its continuing war against the truth,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said.

“We call for the Russian Federation to immediately release Mr Gershkovich."

Mr Patel said that Russia broke international law by not granting consular services to Gershkovich since he was detained last month.

“At this point it is a violation of Russia's obligations under our consular convention and a violation against international law,” he said.

Under an agreement signed by Washington and Moscow in 1964, a consular officer must be allowed to visit a detained citizen within two to four days of their detention.

Gershkovich has been detained since March 29 on espionage charges, which he and the Journal have denied. The White House called Moscow's accusations “ridiculous” and “baseless”.

Lawyers for the Journal have visited Gershkovich and US President Joe Biden has called for his release.

The State Department also called for the release of Paul Whelan, a former US Marine serving 16 years in a Russian prison on espionage charges he denies.

The Biden administration has secured the release of at least 25 "wrongfully detained" Americans. More than 30 other US citizens are still being held abroad with that designation.

Reuters contributed to this report

Updated: April 11, 2023, 10:15 AM