Lawyers for jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich visited him for the first time Tuesday, according to the newspaper, nearly a week after Russian authorities arrested him on espionage charges.
“We are heartened that Evan’s lawyers…were able to meet with him in jail today,” the Journal’s editor-in-chief Emma Tucker wrote in an email to the newsroom. “Evan’s health is good and he is grateful for the outpouring of support from around the world. We continue to call for his immediate release.»
The Journal denies the espionage charges against Gershkovich.
Tucker added: “The legal track is one of several tracks we are working on to advocate for Evan’s release. We continue to work with the White House, State Department, and relevant US government officials to secure Evan’s release.»
Representatives of the US embassy have been denied consular access, according to the newspaper.
Gershkovich, 31, a reporter of Russian descent, had «made Russia his second home and was authorized to work in the country.» according to the newspaper. He was on assignment in the Ural Mountain city of Yekaterinburg, said Dmitry Kolezev, an independent Russian journalist who was familiar with Gershkovich’s plans.
The newspaper has not published details about Gershkovich’s assignment when he was arrested. The Journal did not immediately respond to a request for more details about his assignment.
Russia’s national intelligence service, the FSB, said Gershkovich was arrested on suspicion of «spying in the interests of the US government.» He accused him of collecting «information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the companies of the Russian military-industrial complex.»
The Journal has strongly denied the charges. In an editorial, he accused the Russian government of taking Gershkovich hostage, calling the espionage allegation «dubious at first sight.»
In a sentence Saturdaythe Journal described Gershkovich’s arrest as a «cruel affront to a free press» that «should provoke the outrage of all free people and governments around the world.»
The US government called the charges “ridiculous”, with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre saying Tuesday: “Evan is not a spy. Evan has never been a spy. Evan has never worked for the United States government.»
«The Department of State has continually attempted to secure consular access to Evan in regards to designating wrongful detainees,» he added.
The US government is preparing to officially declare that Gershkovich is wrongfully detained, which would initiate the use of government resources to facilitate his release, according to CNN, citing two unnamed US officials.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday that he had called for Gershkovich’s release in a phone call to his Russian counterpart.
While the Biden administration condemned Gershkovich’s arrest, his colleagues rallied to keep his name on the international radar.
In a show of solidarity at the newspaper’s New York City office, Shayndi Raice, deputy chief of the Journal’s Middle East and North Africa bureau, posted on Instagram a photo of Gershkovich’s face projected into the newsroom with the hashtag #IStandWithEvan.
Everyone was «extremely concerned,» Raice said by email.
“I think the sentiment in the newsroom is really a fighting spirit,” Raice added. “We are all mobilizing in every way possible to keep Evan’s situation in the national consciousness. We are working on many different fronts to get this done.”
As millions of Jews around the world prepare to commemorate the eight-day holiday of EasterIn commemoration of the exodus from slavery in Egypt, Raice helped start an online campaign to encourage Jews to reserve a seat for Gershkovich at the Seder tables on Wednesday.
“Evan is the son of Soviet Jewish immigrants, and I think his story will really resonate at this time of year as so many people celebrate freedom,” he said.
Emma Moody, the Journal’s ethics and standards editor, told the newsroom on Monday that «there is a tireless diplomatic and legal machine working to free Evan,» adding: «Beyond that, there is a huge communication plan and amplification. …
“Keep using the phrase ‘Support Evan’ and the hashtag #istandwithevan in your tweets or retweets,” he said in the email.
Before his arrest, Gershkovich thought the FSB had followed him on a previous mission, Kolezev said. Gershkovich may have been trying to report on Wagner’s mercenary group and talk to employees at one of the country’s largest tank production facilities, Kolezev said.
After being detained, Gershkovich was taken to Moscow’s Lefortovo Court and formally arrested. The court ordered his detention until May 29, according to the official Telegram channel of the capital’s courts.
Gershkovich denied the charges and filed an appeal against his arrest, Russia’s state news agency reported. rate informed.