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U.S. Journalist Reportedly Arrested by Russian Authorities


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A reporter for The Wall Street Journal was reportedly arrested in Russia for ‘suspicion of espionage.’

According to reports, Russian authorities detained Evan Gershkovich in Yekaterinburg, on the eastern side of the Ural Mountains, on suspicion of “espionage in the interests of the American government.”

“The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation has stopped the illegal activities of US citizen Evan Gershkovich, born in 1991, a correspondent of the Moscow bureau of the American newspaper The Wall Street Journal,” Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, said in a statement.

NBC News reported:

The FSB accused Gershkovich of collecting “information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex.”

It provided no evidence or further details on when Gershkovich was arrested. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

Kremlin spokesman Dimtry Peskov told a news briefing that Gershkovich had been “caught red handed.”

“We are not talking about suspicions, but about the fact that he was detained red-handed,” Peskov said, adding that the arrest was up to the FSB.

The Wall Street Journal said in a statement that it “vehemently denies the allegations from the FSB and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter.” It added: “We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family.”

NBC News has reached out to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow for comment. U.S. officials have been in touch with The Wall Street Journal about the situation, a senior Biden administration official told NBC News.

According to the Daily Mail, Gershkovich reportedly went to Yekaterinburg to write about the Wagner private military company.

From the Daily Mail:

Russian reports suggest he had gone to Yekaterinburg to write about the attitude of people to the war unleashed by Putin in Ukraine, and the recruitment of locals for the Wagner private military company.

There was concern for Gershkovich when he failed to make contact with his editorial office.

Russian independent journalist Dmitry Kolezev said he had spoken to Gershkovich before he went to Yekaterinburg and warned him that he would be ‘100% monitored’ from the moment he arrived.

Kolezev said: ‘He understood this well, but he was sure that since he was not doing anything illegal, everything would be limited to ordinary surveillance and, perhaps, some kind of intimidation.

‘It turned out much worse.’

He insisted: ‘Evan is a very brave guy, a good journalist, not a spy at all.’

It is unclear why Gershkovich was detained but Kolezev said he had intended to try and speak to workers outside a tank plant in Nizhny Tagil or the Novator Design Bureau in Yekaterinburg – a manufacturer of long-range anti-aircraft missiles.

‘Both enterprises are easily located on any public map, their location is not a secret,’ said Kolezev.

He added: ‘It seemed to me not only dangerous, but also unpromising, because it is unlikely that anyone will talk to an American in the current situation.

‘Evan has good Russian, but the American is easily guessed in him.

‘I do not know in the end whether he realized this idea, but for sure the very fact of the appearance of an American citizen, not far from the place where tanks or missiles are made, the FSB today considers espionage.’

But he said: ‘In any case, the plot of the case does not really matter – he was taken as a hostage for an exchange, and in fact it does not matter at all what they formally [accuse him of doing].

‘The decision on his fate will be made not in court and not during the investigation, but at negotiations between Russia and the United States.’

Gershkovich has lived in Moscow for six years, working as a journalist.

He is a US citizen born to parents from the Soviet Union.



 

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