The Federal Security Service (FSB, formerly KGB) today formally charged US journalist Evan Gershkovich, correspondent for the The Wall Street Journal arrested at the end of March.
“The FSB investigation brought against Gershkovich the accusation of espionage for the benefit of his country. He categorically denies all accusations and declared that he was engaged in journalistic activities in Russia,” a source from the security services told the agency TASS.
The reporter’s lawyers have appealed his detention, while dozens of independent Russian journalists wrote a letter demanding his release and qualifying as gratuitous the accusation of espionage under article 276 of the criminal code, a charge that entails up to 20 years in jail.
[Evan Gershkovich, el primer periodista de EEUU encarcelado en Moscú por espía desde la Guerra Fría]
At the moment, as the process is secret, the details of the case are unknown, although The detainee is in good health and spirits.as reported by the Russian activists who visited him in pretrial detention.
The only thing that is known is that, once he reported his arrest, the FSB assured that Gershkovich “collected on behalf of the US side secret information about the activities of one of the companies of the military-industrial complex Russian”. “During the attempt to receive secret information, the American was detained in Yekaterinburg”, the capital of the Urals, the FSB said.
According to the digital newspaper jellyfishGershkovich was in Yekaterinburg collecting information about the attitude of the Russians towards the group of Wagner mercenaries.
Both the White House and The Wall Street Journal They have denied the accusations by the Russian security forces against their correspondent and have demanded his immediate release.
Russia asks not to politicize the case
Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Kremlin have called on Washington not to politicize the case and let Justice take its course.
“As far as we know, they caught him red-handed,” said Dmitri Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, who added that this arrest “is a prerogative of the FSB, which thus combats spies.”
For her part, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zajárova, wrote on her Telegram channel that “what the employee of the The Wall Street Journal It has nothing to do with journalism.”
“Unfortunately, it is not the first time that ‘foreign journalist’ status, journalist visa and accreditation are used by foreigners in our country to cover up non-journalistic activities,” he said.
According to Zakharova, Gershkovich “not the first known Westerner caught red-handed”.
Freedom of the press
The approval of pathways laws against spreading false informationsuch as the accusations of war crimes, and the discrediting of the Russian Army in Ukraine, including criticizing volunteers and mercenaries, has made the work of foreign journalists in this country extremely difficult since the beginning of the Russian military campaign in Ukraine.
The last arrest of an American journalist for espionage took place in 1986, in the midst of Perestroika, and involved Nicholas Daniloff, who was exchanged for a Russian prisoner three weeks later.
Recently, Moscow and Washington have carried out several exchanges such as the one that took place in December between the Russian arms dealer Victor But and the basketball player Brittney Griner.