Russia detains WSJ journalist on spying allegations

    REGION  30 March 2023 - 13:47

    Russia’s State Security Service (FSB) has said that it had detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich while he was on assignment in the central city of Yekaterinburg.

    Gershkovich, a U.S. citizen, was involved in the collection of “secret information” about a Russian defence company and a criminal case on espionage charges had been opened against him, The Moscow Times reported on March 30, citing the FSB. 

    Previous local media reports had suggested that Gershkovich was in Yekaterinburg to cover Russia’s war in Ukraine and the Wagner mercenary group. 

    While the majority of independent journalists operating in Russia fled the country last year after the passage of draconian censorship laws, many foreign journalists have continued to work inside the country.  

    PR expert Yaroslav Shirshikov said Thursday on messaging app Telegram that he received an overnight phone call from a WSJ employee who had been unable to contact Gershkovich. 

    “He [Gershkovich] was online yesterday at about 15:00 for the last time. He arranged to do an interview with me,” 66.ru quoted Shirshikov as saying.

    Veteran Yekaterinburg-based journalist Dmitry Kolezev, who lives abroad, said on March 30 that two of his sources had confirmed Gershkovich’s detention.

    Kolezev told The Moscow Times he believes Gershkovich was detained for his reporting.

    “I assume the reason was Evan’s journalistic work,” Kolezev said.

    Shirshikov wrote on Telegram on March 30 that Gershkovich may have been detained the previous day when security officers reportedly entered a local restaurant and took an unknown man with a sweater over his head into a minibus.

    The WSJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Moscow Times. 

    Gershkovich, 31, previously worked as a reporter for Agence France-Presse and The Moscow Times. 

    Caliber.Az

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