UNITED STATES NEWS

American detained in Russia a ‘brave, committed’ journalist

Mar 30, 2023, 2:48 PM

Working as a journalist in Moscow seemed a natural fit for Evan Gershkovich, the son of immigrants from the Soviet Union who grew up speaking Russian at home in Princeton, N.J.

After he graduated in 2014 from Bowdoin College, one of the country’s most selective schools, however, “it took me awhile to figure out that journalism was the career for me,” he said in a 2020 interview on the school’s website.

Now Russia’s Federal Security Service says the 31-year-old American reporter for The Wall Street Journal has been arrested on charges of espionage. The FSB, the country’s top security agency and successor to the KGB, said Gershkovich was collecting information on an enterprise of the military-industrial complex.

The Journal denied the allegations and demanded his release.

Sarah Conly, a retired philosophy professor at Bowdoin, recalled that Gershkovich was unafraid to speak up while other students hung back.

“He was lively and outspoken and not afraid to express his views,” she said in an email. “I have followed his career with admiration and am horrified at this outcome.”

After college, Gershkovich worked for an environmental organization in Southeast Asia, then moved to New York and worked as a cook until joining The New York Times as a clerk on the foreign desk.

Two years later, excited by what he’d learned at the Times, he wanted to get reporting experience and found a slot in 2017 at the Moscow Times, an English-language news site in the Russian capital.

“When you start reporting in Russia, you often hear that it will be very hard to get people to talk,” he said in the Bowdoin interview. “And while that may be true of Russian officialdom -– though not all of it -– I have found that if you go looking for the right people, many of them want to tell their stories.

“Of course, some will want their comments to be from an unnamed source, which means, as a reporter, you have to make sure you speak to them over encrypted channels and protect their identities. But they’re out there,” he said.

Gershkovich later moved to the French news agency Agence France-Presse and then to the Journal.

Friends and colleagues were shocked by the news and took to social media to describe him as a committed journalist, dismissing the allegations as bogus and ridiculous.

“Journalism is not a crime,” they posted.

Henry Foy, the Financial Times’ European diplomatic correspondent based in Brussels, tweeted: “Evan is an exemplary foreign correspondent, a brilliant reporter and a wonderful, kind-hearted friend.”

Joshua Yaffa, a Russia-Ukraine reporter for The New Yorker, posted: “Evan was not unaware or naïve about the risks. It’s not like he was in Russia because no one bothered to tell him it was dangerous. He is a brave, committed, professional journalist who traveled to Russia to report on stories of import and interest.”

Oliver Carrol, a foreign correspondent for The Economist, tweeted that he hopes Gershkovich’s bravery “carries through in these very dark hours. It’s something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Let alone Evan, who is one of the nicest guys in journalism.”

Many foreign journalists pulled out of Russia after the country enacted laws to punish anyone who discredits Russian forces in Ukraine, and the U.S. State Department has repeatedly advised all Americans to leave the country.

The new law has left many of the remaining journalists uncertain about what would be considered crossing the line. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “those carrying out normal journalistic activity will obviously keep working, if they have proper accreditation. There will be no problems with that.”

Russian political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya tweeted that ”the problem is that the recently updated legislation and the FSB’s interpretation of espionage today allow for the imprisonment of anyone who is simply interested in military affairs.”

Gershkovich is the first American reporter to be arrested on espionage charges in Russia since 1986, when Nicholas Daniloff of U.S. News and World Report was arrested by the KGB. Daniloff was released without charge 20 days later in a swap for an employee of the Soviet Union’s U.N. mission who was arrested by the FBI, also on spying charges.

One other American is in prison on a spying conviction: former Marine and corporate security executive Paul Whelan, arrested in 2018 on charges the United States and his family say were trumped-up.

For Whelan’s brother David, Gershkovich’s arrest is painful.

“Our family is sorry to hear that another American family will have to experience the same trauma that we have had to endure for the past 1,553 days,” he said in a statement.

United States News

Associated Press

California man is first in the US to be charged with smuggling greenhouse gases, prosecutors say

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A Southern California man was arrested Monday on suspicion of smuggling refrigerants into the U.S. from Mexico and federal prosecutors said he’s the first person to be charged with violating regulations intended to curb the use of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. The indictment alleges Michael Hart, of San […]

16 minutes ago

Associated Press

Regulatory costs account for half of the price of new condos in Hawaii, university report finds

HONOLULU (AP) — A University of Hawaii report published Monday found regulatory costs account for more than half of the price of a new condominium in Hawaii, a place where high housing costs are fueling an exodus of local-born residents searching for cheaper places to live. Some are worried the migration of Native Hawaiians and […]

1 hour ago

President Joe Biden talks with the U.S. Border Patrol, as he looks over the southern border, Thursd...

Associated Press

Immigration judges union, a frequent critic, is told to get approval before speaking publicly

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A 53-year-old union of immigration judges has been ordered to get supervisor approval to speak publicly to anyone outside the Justice Department, potentially quieting a frequent critic of heavily backlogged immigration courts in an election year. The National Association of Immigration Judges has spoken regularly at public forums, in interviews with […]

2 hours ago

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, ...

Associated Press

Settlement in Wisconsin fake elector case offers new details on the strategy by Trump lawyers

Two attorneys for then-President Donald Trump orchestrated a plan for fake electors to file paperwork falsely saying the Republican won Wisconsin in a strategy to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory there and in other swing states, according to a lawsuit settlement reached Monday that makes public months of texts and emails.

2 hours ago

Associated Press

2 snowmobilers killed in separate avalanches in Washington and Idaho

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — Two snowmobilers have been killed in separate avalanches in Washington state and in Idaho. Two snowmobilers riding in the Cascade Mountains west of Yakima, Washington, triggered a slide Friday in a bowl near Darland Mountain, according to the Northwest Avalanche Center. The rider who did not survive was described as fully […]

2 hours ago

(AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS...

Associated Press

UN envoy says ‘reasonable grounds’ to believe Hamas committed sexual violence on Oct. 7

The U.N. envoy focusing on sexual violence in conflict said in a new report Monday that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe Hamas committed rape, “sexualized torture,” and other cruel and inhumane treatment of women during its surprise attack in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

American detained in Russia a ‘brave, committed’ journalist