A correspondent working for the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in Russia has been detained in the city of Ekaterinburg in the Urals, the FSB security service announced on Thursday.
Evan Gershkovich, who covers news from Russia, Ukraine and other parts of the former USSR for the American newspaper, was accused of trying to collect intelligence at a defense factory in violation of Russia’s laws on state secrets, the statement said. The journalist now faces between 10 and 20 years in prison on espionage charges.
The FSB alleged that Gershkovich, a US citizen who had obtained the necessary journalistic credentials from the Foreign Ministry to work in Russia, “acted in the interest of the US government” when he sought to obtain classified information. He was arrested “during an attempt to receive” the intelligence, the statement added.
The WSJ is “deeply concerned for the safety of Mr Gershkovich,” the outlet said in a statement.
The Foreign Ministry has commented on the news, stating that whatever Gershkovich was doing, “it had nothing to do with journalism.” Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted that the status of a correspondent and journalistic credentials have previously been used as cover by others, and that other Western nationals have been caught in similar situations in the past.
Before joining the WSJ, Gershkovich was a reporter for Agence France-Presse and the Moscow Times, and a news assistant at the New York Times, according to his bio.
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