Schumer and McConnell condemn Russia’s detention of reporter Evan Gershkovich

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The Senate’s Democratic and Republican leaders on Friday issued a rare bipartisan statement condemning Russia’s “wrongful detention” of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., rebuked Moscow for detaining Gershkovich and called for the journalist’s immediate release. Gershkovich, an American citizen whose parents are originally from the Soviet Union, was detained in late March on suspicion of “espionage in the interests of the American government,” Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said in a statement, which was reported by Russian state media. The Wall Street Journal and the Biden administration have categorically denied that Gershkovich was affiliated with the U.S. government.

The senators said Friday that Gershkovich’s detention continues Russia’s “long and disturbing history” of unjustly detaining American citizens.

“Let there be no mistake: journalism is not a crime,” Schumer and McConnell said. “We demand the baseless, fabricated charges against Mr. Gershkovich be dropped and he be immediately released and reiterate our condemnation of the Russian government’s continued attempts to intimidate, repress, and punish independent journalists and civil society voices.”

Evan Gershkovich.
Evan Gershkovich.Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP – Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday there was “no doubt” that Russian authorities had wrongfully detained Gershkovich.

The Senate leaders said that Russian authorities had failed to provide evidence to justify their “fabricated charges” against Gershkovich, a journalist accredited by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to report in the country. They suggested that Russia had violated international law by denying the U.S. Embassy consular access to Gershkovich.

The Lefortovo court in Moscow ordered Gershkovich to be detained until May 29, according to the official Telegram channel of the capital’s courts. Gershkovich denied the charges against him, according to the TASS state news agency. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

Gershkovich has covered Russia, Ukraine and the former Soviet Union for the Wall Street Journal. He has received an outpouring of support since his detention. The Journal said Gershkovich is a “trusted and dedicated reporter” and “vehemently” denied the allegations against him. It said in a statement that it seeks his immediate release.

“We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family,” the newspaper said.


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