US reporter detained in Russia on espionage charges
(Update 1: adds detail throughout)
Moscow, Mar 30 (EFE).- Evan Gershkovich, a United States citizen and a reporter for the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), has been arrested in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg on espionage charges, Russia’s top security agency confirmed on Thursday.
The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said it had “thwarted the illegal activities of Evan Gershkovich, (…) who is suspected of spying in the interests of the American government.”
“It was established that Evan Gershkovich, acting at the request of the American side, collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex,” the FSB added, according to local media.
The WSJ “vehemently denies” allegations against him and has called for him to be released immediately.
The US newspaper said the reporter was part of its Moscow bureau and was “deeply concerned” for his safety.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Gershkovich “was caught red-handed” when he was arrested while working in Yekaterinburg, 1,647 kilometers east of Moscow.
When asked whether other international reporters in Russia should be concerned, he said, “those who conduct appropriate journalistic activities, naturally given they have valid accreditation, will be able to continue working.”
Peskov did not provide any further information about the journalist’s detention.
“I can’t elaborate, I don’t have the details. This is the prerogative of the special services, whose task is precisely the activity of spies,” he added.
If convicted, the 32-year-old could face up to 20 years in prison.
According to the independent news website Meduza, Gershkovich was detained outside a restaurant in Yekaterinburg on Wednesday.
The US journalist is suspected of collecting classified information in Yekaterinburg about the Wagner Group, a private army fighting alongside Russian forces in Ukraine, local media said. EFE