Russia detains American journalist for first time after the Cold War
Moscow/Washington/Geneva: American journalist Evan Geshkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter, has been detained by the Russian Federal Security Service from Yekaterinburg locality (around 1,800 kilometres east of Moscow) while he was allegedly trying to obtain classified information.
The FSB alleged that Gershkovich (31), a citizen of the United States, was acting on behalf of the US government to collect information about an enterprise in the Russian military-industrial complex.
Russia has not revealed when the arrest of Gershkovich, who earlier worked for AFP and Moscow Times, took place.
Gershkovich, who covers Russia, Ukraine and other ex-Soviet nations as a correspondent of WSJ’s Moscow bureau, could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of espionage. The WSJ authority vehemently denied the allegations and stood in solidarity with Gershkovich and his family.
Condemning in the strongest possible terms the Kremlin’s “continued attempts to intimidate, repress, and punish journalists and civil society voices”, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said, “We are deeply concerned over Russia’s widely-reported detention of a US citizen journalist”. He added: “We are in contact with the Wall Street Journal on this situation.”
Whenever a US citizen is detained abroad, Blinken informed that the US Department of State immediately seeks consular access, and seeks to provide all appropriate support.
“The Department of State’s highest priority is the safety and security of U.S. citizens abroad. We reiterate our strong warnings about the danger posed to U.S. citizens inside the Russian Federation. U.S. citizens residing or travelling in Russia should depart immediately, as stated in our Travel Advisory for Russia,” Blinken said.
Meanwhile, in Geneva today, Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), the global media safety and rights body, expressed concern over the arrest of the American journalist Geshkovich and demanded his immediate release “as he was only doing his assigned job with the accreditation from the Russian foreign ministry”.
“The 30 March 2023 announcement marks a serious escalation in Kremlin’s efforts to silence independent media, a crackdown that gained momentum following Russia’s military operation in Ukraine last year,” said PEC president Blaise Lempen, adding that Geshkovich is the first American reporter put behind bars on spying accusations since the Cold War.
– global bihari bureau