Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich has been accused by Russian authorities of gathering state secrets for the United States and has been arrested and detained, per multiple reports.
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Gershkovich, 31, is accused by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) of “espionage in the interests of the American government.” He could serve a jail sentence of 20 years if convicted.
“It has been established that E. Gershkovich, acting on an assignment from the American side, was gathering information classified as a state secret about the activity of one of the enterprises of Russia’s military-industrial complex,” FSB said in a statement to Russian media.
The Wall Street Journal released a statement of its own, denying the allegations.
“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 statement read. “We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family.”
Gershkovich was arrested in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city and known as a manufacturing hub of heavy industry and steel.
“What an employee of the American edition of The Wall Street Journal was doing in Yekaterinburg has nothing to do with journalism,” Russia Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on her Telegram page.
Per a Wall Street Journal author page, Gershkovich as covered Russia and Ukraine since 2017. He has also worked for the Moscow Times and New York Times.
The U.S. travel advisory lists Russia as a Level-4 country, meaning it should be avoided at all costs.
“Do not travel to Russia due to the unpredictable consequences of the unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russian military forces, the potential for harassment and the singling out of U.S. citizens for detention by Russian government security officials, the arbitrary enforcement of local law, limited flights into and out of Russia, the Embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, and the possibility of terrorism. U.S. citizens residing or traveling in Russia should depart immediately,” the U.S. Department of State said. “Exercise increased caution due to the risk of wrongful detentions.”