According to Russian news organizations, Wall Street Journal writer Evan Gershkovich has been officially charged with espionage.
According to Reuters, Interfax quoted a source as saying “Gershkovich has been charged” with espionage.
“He categorically denied all accusations and stated that he was engaged in journalistic activities in Russia,” according to Reuters, citing TASS, a Russian official media outfit.
The news of the official charges came after U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a joint statement calling for the release of Gershkovich, arguing the allegations against him are “baseless” and “fabricated.”
Gershkovich, the newspaper’s Moscow bureau correspondent, was detained by the Russian government’s Federal Security Service on March 29 on accusations of spying on behalf of the United States.
The newspaper has categorically disputed these allegations, while some of Gershkovich’s colleagues have backed him. President Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada have all asked for his release.
“We strongly condemn the wrongful detention of US citizen and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and demand his immediate release,” Schumer and McConnell said in a joint statement Friday.
“Mr. Gershkovich was accredited by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work as a journalist in Russia. Since his arrest, Russian authorities have failed to present any credible evidence to justify their fabricated charges,” the statement continued.
“Moreover, against standard diplomatic practice and likely in violation of international law the U.S. Embassy has been denied consular access to Mr. Gershkovich,” it added.
Schumer and McConnell also said “the Kremlin continues to wrongfully detain U.S. citizen Paul Whelan” and that it should “release Mr. Whelan and Mr. Gershkovich now.”
“Make no mistake: journalism is not a crime,” the statement went on to say. “We demand that the baseless, fabricated charges against Mr. Gershkovich be dropped, and that he be released immediately, and we reiterate our condemnation of the Russian government’s ongoing efforts to intimidate, repress, and punish independent journalists and civil society voices.”
Gershkovich was initially seized by Russian officials on March 29 in Yekaterinburg after being suspected of attempting to gather classified information “on the activities of one of the Russian military-industrial complex’s enterprises.”
Source | Fox News