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Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested a Wall Street Journal reporter, Evan Gershkovich, on allegations of espionage. The FSB said in a statement that Gershkovich, who is a U.S. citizen, was detained in Yekaterinburg, a city located in the Ural Mountains, approximately 900 miles east of Moscow.
According to the FSB, Gershokovich was “on the instructions of the United States, he was collecting information about one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex, which constitutes a state secret.”
In response to the reporter’s arrest, WSJ released a statement, saying, “The Wall Street Journal vehemently denies the allegations from the FSB, and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and unbiased reporter, Evan Gershkovich.”
The reporter has worked for WSJ for over a year in Moscow. Prior to working for the WSJ, Gershkovich worked in Moscow for The Moscow Times and Agence France-Presse.
The reporter’s work over the past year has focused on the effects that Western sanctions have had on Russia’s economy and the faltering relations between the Wagner group and Moscow’s elite.
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The FSB claims that it had “stopped the illegal activities” that Gershkovich was carrying out and has opened an espionage case against him in Yekaterinburg.
Gershkovich’s arrest comes on the heels of the release of a former Russian prisoner, WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was released in December as part of a Russian-U.S. prisoner swap that also saw the release of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
An expert on Russian security services, Andrei Soldatov, tweeted that Gershkovich’s arrest “is a frontal attack on all foreign correspondents who still work in Russia.”
Now the question is, will the Biden administration consider another prisoner swap for Gershkovich, and what type of heinous criminal is the U.S. willing to release in exchange for the reporter?
Let’s also not forget about Paul Whelan, a corporate security executive and former Marine who has been detained in Russia since 2018 on espionage charges. Whelan was passed over in the Bout swap in exchange for a high-profile WNBA star who had been arrested for an actual violation of Russian law.
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