US journalist arrested in Russia on charges of 'espionage'

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has reportedly been arrested in Russia after being accused of espionage. The arrest is arguably the most serious public maneuver against a foreign journalist since Russia first invaded Ukraine just over a year ago. 

Russia’s FSB security service has detained Gershkovich, claiming that he has been spying for Washington, DC. A Moscow court has ruled that the journalist should be detained for nearly two months. The Wall Street Journal has dismissed the allegations as false, according to Reuters.

The Russian agency claimed that it had arrested Gershkovich while he was attempting "to obtain secret information" on "the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex."

Fox News reported that the FSB Investigation Department has opened a criminal case under the article of espionage. Russia has tightened up its censorship laws after it sent thousands of troops into Ukraine last year in what it referred to as a "special military operation." Consequently, jail terms were brought against those who "discredited" the military.

However, Russia appears to have broadened the definition of what it considers to be a state secret, specifically in the military realm.

Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of the R.Politik political analysis firm and Kremlin watcher, said: "The problem is that recently updated Russian legislation and the FSB's interpretation of espionage today allow for the imprisonment of anyone who is simply interested in military affairs."

Caitlyn Reuss, the WSJ’s Senior Communications Manager, said: "The Wall Street Journal vehemently denies the allegations from the FSB and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter, Evan Gershkovich. We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family."

Fox News reported that Gershkovich is an accredited journalist who has received approval to work in Russia by the nation’s foreign ministry. The report noted that Gershkovich was said to have been arrested in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg where he was reportedly attempting to acquire secret information about a factory in the area. However, details about the factory were not revealed.

The FSB said: "It has been established that E. Gershkovich, acting on an assignment from the American side, was gathering information classified as a state secret about the activity of one of the enterprises of Russia's military-industrial complex.”

Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said that the situation with Gershkovich is not the first time that a foreign journalist has been used as a cover for other objectives, per Reuters.

The US Embassy in Moscow had no immediate comment, adding that it did not know about the incident and that it was currently seeking details about the case from Russian authorities.

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