Washington strongly condemned Moscow on the background of arresting American reporter
The United States on Thursday, strongly condemned Moscow’s detaining the American journalist who works for the Wall Street Journal in Moscow, saying that Russia isn’t a safe country for Americans and that they must leave it immediately.
Moscow court ordered the arrest of Evan Gershkovich on Thursday, saying he had been spying for the United States.
Russian officials said they would keep the reporter in detention until at least May 29.
“I want to reiterate very strongly that Americans should heed the US government’s warning not to travel to Russia,” White House spokeswoman Karen Jean-Pierre said.
She added, “US citizens residing in Russia or are there should leave it immediately, while the State Department continues to provide advice”.
“Targeting US citizens by the Russian government is unacceptable,” the White House said in a statement, adding that it condemned the detention “in the strongest terms”.
The journalist was held in Yekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains, about 1,460 km east of the Russian capital, Moscow.
According to the media, Gershkovich was trying to prepare a report on the attitude of the population regarding the recruitment attempts of the Wagner private military company, which is being used in the war against Ukraine.
Jean-Pierre said the State Department is in direct contact with the Russian government and is actively seeking consular advice for Gershkovich.
The Wall Street Journal strongly denied Russian allegations, calling for his release, and said it was concerned about his well-being.
“We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family,” the Wall Street Journal said.
Evan Gershkovich, born in 1991, faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
The Russian legal system is highly politicized, and charges almost always result in convictions.
Russia’s domestic intelligence service, the FSB, said it had detained the US reporter in Yekaterinburg, in the Urals, for spying for the US government.
The Russian intelligence said that Gershkovich had collected information about the military-industrial complex in Russia for the benefit of the American side.
“As far as we know, he was caught in the act,” Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state radio Thursday.
The Sverdlovsk region around Yekaterinburg is one of the strongholds of Russia’s arms industry.
In turn, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova took advantage of the case as an opportunity to accuse Western correspondents in general of spying on Russia, under the guise of journalism.
Zakharova said that what Gershkovich did in Yekaterinburg had nothing to do with journalism.
She wrote on her Telegram channel, “Unfortunately, this isn’t the first case in which the status of a foreign correspondent, a journalist’s visa, and the accreditation of foreigners in our country are used to hide activity that has nothing to do with journalism.”
Zakharova also repeatedly complains about repression of Russian journalists in the West, including Germany.
She warned publicly last week of taking action against German correspondents in Moscow if the German government put pressure on the Russians.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine 13 months ago, Moscow has once again severely restricted freedom of expression and the press in the country.
There are also threats of legal action to discriminate or damage the reputation of the Russian military.
Americans are repeatedly suspected of espionage or other crimes in Russia, although this may be the first case of espionage against a journalist officially accredited by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The imprisoned Kremlin opposition team, Alexei Navalny, said the Russian opposition described it as a “hostage-taking”.
She said that Russian President Vladimir Putin “is ready to use any means in order to put pressure on the West”.