Russia detains a journalist from ‘The Wall Street Journal’ after accusing him of “espionage”

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The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) reported on March 30 that it had detained 31-year-old American reporter Evan Gershkovich, accusing him of “espionage.” The newspaper rejected the accusations against the journalist and demanded his release. Gershkovich’s capture would have an impact on both diplomacy with Washington and coverage of the war in Ukraine. Meanwhile, kyiv acknowledged advances by the invading troops in Bakhmut, in the east of the invaded country.

Evan Gershkovich would be the highest-profile US citizen arrested by Moscow since basketball star Brittney Griner.

The capture of the reporter from ‘The Wall Street Journal’ took place this Thursday, March 30, by the Federal Security Service (FSB), the main Russian agency, which accused him of “espionage”, allegedly in favor of the United States Government. .

In a statement, the FSB said it had “stopped the illegal activities of the US citizen Gershkovich Evan, born in 1991, a correspondent for the Moscow bureau of the US newspaper ‘The Wall Street Journal’, accredited to the Russian Foreign Ministry, suspected of espionage in the interest of the US government”.

According to the Moscow version, the 31-year-old journalist was arrested while allegedly trying to obtain classified information and the Kremlin said he had been “caught red-handed”.

The FSB assured that Gershkovich would have collected information on “the activities of one of the companies of the military and defense complex.”

However, so far, the Russian authorities have not presented evidence in this regard.

In the last few hours, a Moscow court began a closed-door session to hear a request for the reporter’s formal arrest, Russian state news agency RIA reported.

The arrest took place in the city of Yekaterinburg, in the Ural Mountains, in central-western Russia.

Gershkovich’s arrest promises to escalate already tense relations between Moscow and Washington and the complex coverage of the Russian war in Ukraine.

‘The Wall Street Journal’ rejects ‘spying’ accusations

The newspaper issued a statement in which it reiterated that Gershkovich is one of its correspondents, but categorically rejects the accusations against him.

“The Wall Street Journal’ vehemently denies the FSB’s allegations and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter, Evan Gershkovich. We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family,” the newspaper said.

Currently, Washington advises its citizens not to travel to Russian territory, due to the danger of arbitrary arrest, and states that Americans living in Russia should leave immediately.

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the war on Ukraine more than a year ago, Moscow has banned all independent media outlets, both domestic and foreign.

Against this background, journalism has been severely limited by laws that impose long sentences for any public criticism of the conflict.

Ukraine acknowledges some advances by Russian troops in Bakhmut

The bloody combats between the local Army and the invading troops continue on Ukrainian soil and in the last hours kyiv admitted some gains from the Russians within the strategic city of Bakhmut, in the east of the country.

However, the Ukrainian authorities insisted that their military is inflicting greater losses on the Russian attackers than their own defense forces are suffering.

“The enemy forces had some success in their actions aimed at storming the city of Bakhmut (…) Our defenders hold the city and repel numerous enemy attacks,” said the General Staff of the Ukrainian armed forces.

Ukrainian soldiers fire shells towards Russian positions near Bakhmut in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine on March 7, 2023.
Ukrainian soldiers fire shells towards Russian positions near Bakhmut in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine on March 7, 2023. © AP

The ruined mining town has been the scene of the bloodiest infantry battle in Europe since World War II, as Russian soldiers, backed by the Wagner mercenary group, seek their first “victory” since mid-2022. .

The Institute for the Study of War said the Russians had captured territory to the south and southwest of the city in the past two days, and also says Wagner seized a metal plant in the north this week.

Ukraine’s forces have been on the defensive for almost five months, but currently say they plan a counter-offensive that would be launched “soon”.

With Reuters and AP

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