Photos: Evan Gershkovich // Facebook, Flickr
Investigators from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Friday formally charged Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporter Evan Gershkovich with espionage. Nevertheless, Gershkovich and WSJ continue to deny the charges and maintain the American reporter’s innocence. Russian authorities arrested Gershkovich on March 29 in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Since then, Gershkovich has been kept in a Russian detention facility.
According to Russian news source TASS, FSB investigators officially brought espionage charges against Gershkovich on Friday. The FSB accuses Gershkovich of spying on aspects of the Russian military industrial complex on behalf of the US. But Gershkovich has denied the accusations. According to TASS, “[Gershkovich] categorically denied all the accusations and stated that he was engaged in journalistic activities in Russia.”
There are not many details known about Gershkovich’s case, as the FSB has deemed the matter “top secret.” The US has attempted to engage in diplomatic talks with Russia regarding the reporter’s case, but there has been little success thus far. On April 2, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to express concern over Gershkovich’s arrest. US Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre later said the Department of State is in the process of making a wrongful detention determination on Gershkovich’s case. She said the US would need time to let the process play out, but in the meantime, the Department of State continues to seek consular access to Gershkovich.
Most recently, on April 3, Gershkovich’s Russian attorneys appealed the espionage charge in Russian court. However, a date has not yet been scheduled to hear arguments on the appeal. Gershkovich has been in Russian custody since the Lefortovo District Court in Moscow, Russia remanded Gershkovich into custody under Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code. Gershkovich faces potentially 20 years in prison.
Since the conclusion of the Cold War, Gershkovich is the only American journalist to be jailed in Russia on espionage-related charges. WSJ has requested the immediate release of its “trusted and dedicated reporter.” WSJ called Gershkovich’s arrest was “a vicious affront to a free press…[one that] should spur outrage in all free people and governments throughout the world.”