Wall Street Journal Reporter Arrested in Russia on Espionage Charges

A Wall Street Journal reporter has been detained in Russia on espionage charges.

Russia’s main security agency said it detained a Wall Street Journal reporter, Evan Gershkovich who is a U.S. citizen, for what it is calling espionage.

The Federal Security Service said Thursday it had detained Gershkovich in the eastern city of Yekaterinburg. The FSB said in a statement 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 Wall Street Journal vehemently denies the allegations from the FSB and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter, Evan Gershkovich,” the Journal said. “We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “It is not about a suspicion, is it about the fact that he was caught red-handed.”

According to NBC:

If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

Gershkovich is the first journalist from an American outlet to be arrested on espionage charges in Russia since the Cold War.

The charges against him come at a time of bitter tensions between Washington and Moscow over the war in Ukraine, and as the Kremlin cracks down on free speech at home.

According to The AP:

At a hearing Thursday, a Moscow court quickly ruled to keep Gershkovich behind bars pending the investigation, according to the official Telegram channel of the capital’s courts.

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While previous American detainees have been freed in prisoner swaps, a top Russian official said it was way too early to talk about any such deal.

There was no immediate public comment from Washington, although a U.S. official indicated the U.S. government was aware of the situation and awaiting more information from Russia.

Gershkovich, who covers Russia, Ukraine and other ex-Soviet nations as a correspondent in The Wall Street Journal’s Moscow bureau, could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of espionage.

Prominent lawyers noted that past investigations into espionage cases in the past took a year to 18 months during which time he may be held with little contact with the outside world.

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By David Hawkins

David Hawkins is a writer who specializes in political commentary and world affairs. He's been writing professionally since 2014.

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