Russian authorities arrested an American journalist for The Wall Street Journal on Thursday on espionage charges. The Federal Security Service (FSB) said in a statement reported by state media that journalist Evan Gershkovich was detained in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg on suspicion of “espionage in the interests of the American government.” He was later taken to the Lefortovo court in Moscow and formally arrested. 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.” An official Telegram channel of the capital’s courts said they quickly ordered Gershkovich’s initial detention until May 29.
Kremlin spokesman Dimtry Peskov said at a news briefing “we are not talking about suspicions, but about the fact that he was detained red-handed,” and added that the arrest was up to the FSB. Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted that Gershkovich had accreditation from the Russian Foreign Ministry to work as a journalist, but was using his journalistic credentials as a cover for “activities that have nothing to do with journalism.”
The 31-year-old Gershkovich, who covers Russia, Ukraine and the former Soviet Union for the WSJ, is the first journalist from an American outlet to be arrested on espionage charges in Russia since the Cold War. According to his author page on The Wall Street Journal’s website, he was previously a reporter for Agence France-Presse and the Moscow Times, and a news assistant at The New York Times. His most recent article was published Tuesday and co-bylined, with the headline: “Russia’s Economy Is Starting to Come Undone.” Gershkovich speaks Russian, and his parents are originally from the former Soviet Union (they now live in the U.S.)
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