Russia detains WSJ reporter over spying allegations
Russia’s State Security Service (FSB) said on Thursday it detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich while he was on assignment in the central city of Yekaterinburg, according to state media RIA. Novosti.
Gershkovich, a US citizen, was involved in collecting “secret information” about a Russian defense company and a criminal case for espionage was opened against him, RIA Novosti reported, citing the FSB.
Previous local media reports had suggested that Gershkovich was in Yekaterinburg covering Russia’s war in Ukraine and the Wagner mercenary group.
While the majority of freelance journalists operating in Russia fled the country last year after draconian censorship laws were passed, many foreign journalists have continued to work inside the country.
PR expert Yaroslav Shirshikov said On Thursday, on the Telegram messaging app, he received an overnight phone call from a WSJ employee who had been unable to contact Gershkovich.
“He (Gershkovich) was online yesterday around 3:00 p.m. for the last time. He arranged to do an interview with me. 66.ru quoted Shirshikov as saying.
Yekaterinburg veteran journalist Dmitry Kolezev, who lives abroad, said Thursday that two of his sources had confirmed Gershkovich’s detention.
Kolezev told the Moscow Times that he believed Gershkovich was arrested for his reporting.
“I guess the reason was Evan’s journalistic work,” Kolezev said.
Chirchikov writing on Telegram on Thursday that Gershkovich may have been arrested the day before when security officers allegedly entered a local restaurant and took a stranger 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.