US envoy to Russia pays first visit to WSJ reporter Gershkovich in Moscow prison

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US Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy said on Monday she had made a first visit in jail to Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter accused by Moscow of spying, and had found him to be holding up well.

“This is the first time we’ve had consular access to Evan since his wrongful detention over two weeks ago. He feels well and is holding up. We reiterate our call for Evan’s immediate release,” Tracy said in a short statement in Russian on Telegram.

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Gershkovich, a respected journalist who was hired by the Wall Street Journal shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine last year, was arrested last month in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg. It is the first time since 1986 that an American reporter has been held for alleged espionage in Russia.

His newspaper has rejected the charge, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. The White House has called it “ridiculous,” and President Joe Biden has said Gershkovich’s detention is “totally illegal.”

Tracy did not say how long she had spent with the reporter in Moscow’s Lefortovo pre-trial detention center. The visit took place on the eve of a court hearing that is due to consider Gershkovich’s appeal against his detention.

The FSB security service has accused Gershkovich of collecting state secrets about Russia’s military-industrial complex. The Kremlin says he was “caught red-handed” but has not published any evidence to support that claim.

The United States last week designated Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained,” in effect saying that the spy charges were bogus and the case was political.

The top US hostage envoy has pledged to do “whatever it takes” to bring home Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, an American ex-Marine who was convicted of espionage in 2020 and has also been designated by Washington as wrongfully detained.

Read more:

Blinken: Russia must provide consular access for detained WSJ reporter Gershkovich

Kremlin denies reports that Russian President Putin approved arrest of US journalist

Biden calls Russian imprisonment of US journalist ‘out of bounds’​​​​​​​

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