The U.S. State Department has officially determined that Russian authorities have wrongly arrested and detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, whom Moscow accuses of seeking to access classified information.
“I made the determination that the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained Evan Gershkovich,” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced on Monday. “We call for his and Paul Whelan’s immediate release.”
The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) on March 30 detained the reporter in Yekaterinburg on March 30, accusing him of espionage.
“It was established that E. Gershkovich, acting 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,” the FSB said at the time.
Both the WSJ and the Biden administration deny that Gershkovich was a spy.
“Journalism is not a crime. We condemn the Kremlin’s continued repression of independent voices in Russia, and its ongoing war against the truth,” said State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel, The Hill reported.
Whelan, meanwhile, was arrested in 2018 on espionage charges and has received a 16-year prison sentence. The Biden administration in 2022 negotiated a prisoner exchange with Russia to recover WNBA player Brittney Griner in exchange for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, prompting outrage from conservatives for not securing Whelan’s release as well.
Related Story: Russia Arrests American Journalist for “Illegal Activities”