White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the president was “deeply concerned” regarding “troubling” reports that Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was detained in Russia on Thursday, March 30.
In a press briefing on Thursday afternoon, the White House said President Joe Biden was in contact with Gershkovich’s family and confirmed the State Department “has been in direct touch with the Russian government on this matter, including actively working to secure consular access” to the journalist.
“The targeting of American citizens by the Russian government is unacceptable. We condemn the detention of Mr Gershkovich in the strongest terms,” a statement from the press room reads. “We also condemn the Russian government’s continued targeting and repression of journalists and freedom of the press.”
Russian news agency TASS published a statement on Thursday from the Center for Public Relations of the Federal Security Service (FSB), reading: “It has been established that Evan Gershkovich, acting on instructions from the American side, was collecting information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex. While trying to obtain secret information, a foreigner was detained in Yekaterinburg.”
Local media in Yekaterinburg, citing local publicist Yaroslav Shirshikov, reported that Gershkovich was meant to fly from Yekaterinburg to Moscow on March 29, but never boarded his flight.
Ria Novosti, a Russian state-owned news agency citing the FSB, reported on Thursday that a case of espionage had been initiated against Gershkovich following the arrest.
Gershkovich, 31, is a Russian-speaking US citizen who has been living in Moscow for six years, according to Russian local media.
The Wall Street Journal said it was “deeply concerned for the safety of Mr Gershkovich.” Credit: The White House via Storyful