Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Russia detains Wall Street Journal reporter on spy charges

Cars are seen parked in the yard of the Lefortovsky court, which is reportedly set to hold a remand hearing into the case against Evan Gershkovich, a U.S. journalist working for the Wall Street Journal detained in Russia on suspicion of spying in Moscow on Thursday.  (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS)
Bloomberg News

Bloomberg News

Russia’s Federal Security Service said it has detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, a U.S. citizen, in the city of Yekaterinburg on spying allegations.

Gershkovich “is suspected of espionage in the interests of the American government,” the security service known as the FSB said Thursday in a website statement, which didn’t indicate when he was held. The reporter “collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex,” it said.

“The Wall Street Journal vehemently denies the allegations from the FSB and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter,” the newspaper said in a statement. “We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family.”

The journalist was “caught red-handed” by the FSB, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on a conference call.

Gershkovich, who is accredited to the Wall Street Journal’s bureau in Moscow with the Russian Foreign Ministry, previously worked as a reporter for Agence France-Presse and the Moscow Times, covering Russia and Ukraine extensively.

His recent stories included an examination of the impact of international sanctions on Russia’s economy and one about rising tensions between the Kremlin elite and the Wagner paramilitary force, run by Yevgeny Prigozhin, that has been trying for months to take the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.

The detention of the reporter “is a frontal attack on all foreign correspondents who still work in Russia,” Andrei Soldatov, an expert on Russia’s security services, wrote on Twitter.

The Yekaterinburg region in the Urals mountains is a major hub of Russia’s defense industry, where factories produce tanks and armored vehicles, missiles and artillery systems. The case follows a string of confrontations between the U.S. and the Kremlin regarding detained citizens, amid worsening relations over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia freed WNBA star Brittney Griner from prison in December in a swap for arms dealer Viktor Bout who had been convicted and imprisoned in the U.S.

That came after the Biden administration last April unexpectedly swapped imprisoned Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko for former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed, who was serving nine years after being convicted in Russia in 2020. Efforts are continuing to reach agreement on another detained former U.S. Marine, Paul Whelan, who was sentenced in Moscow to 16 years in 2020 on spying charges he denies.