NEW YORK, March 30, 2023 – The Overseas Press Club of America strongly condemns and expresses its deep concern over the press freedom implications of the detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich in Russia for alleged espionage.
Gershkovich, a 31-year-old U.S. journalist, was arrested by Russia’s Federal Security Service and detained in the city of Yekaterinburg on suspicion “of espionage in the interests of the American government.” The security service, known as FSB, alleges the journalist collected information “constituting a state secret.” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a statement condemned the detention “in the strongest terms.”
The Wall Street Journal denies the allegations and is calling for Gershkovich’s immediate release. His detainment marks the first time Russia has charged a U.S. journalist with spying since the Cold War. His recent stories include a look at how international sanctions are affecting Russia’s economy and on tensions between the Kremlin elite and the Wagner paramilitary force.
The OPC joins calls for Gershkovich’s immediate release and expresses deep concern over journalists being used as pawns amid geopolitical tensions between countries. By all accounts, Gershkovich was simply doing his job as a journalist. He is accredited to the Wall Street Journal’s bureau in Moscow with the Russian Foreign Ministry, and previously worked as a reporter for Agence France-Presse and the Moscow Times.
The OPC, the largest association in the United States of journalists engaged in international news, steadfastly supports the rights of journalists around the world to freely report without harassment or detention by any government body or agency. Journalism is not a crime.