Senate Leaders Demand American Reporter’s Release
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In a rare bipartisan statement, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) demanded on Friday that Russia immediately release Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who has been detained on alleged espionage charges.
The senators condemned the wrongful detention of Gershkovich, stating that “journalism is not a crime” and called for his immediate release. Gershkovich, who was accredited by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work as a journalist in Russia, has been formally charged with espionage and has entered his official denial, according to Russian state news agency Tass.
The U.S. government has been working to swiftly end what it calls the unlawful detention of Gershkovich, who was arrested late last month and is currently being held in a Moscow prison. U.S. officials, including President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, have expressed their support for Gershkovich’s release. The Wall Street Journal has also adamantly denied the allegations against Gershkovich and demanded his release.
Schumer and McConnell further criticized Russia for denying consular access to Gershkovich, which goes against standard diplomatic practice and likely violates international law. They also highlighted Russia’s history of unjustly detaining U.S. citizens, citing the case of Paul Whelan, a Michigan corporate security executive who has been imprisoned in Russia since December 2018 on espionage charges that his family and the U.S. government have said are baseless. Whelan is currently serving a 16-year sentence.
The detention of Gershkovich and the baseless allegations of espionage against him are part of a concerning trend of Russia’s crackdown on journalism and freedom of the press. This latest incident underscores the urgent need for Russia to respect press freedom and release Gershkovich immediately.
Russia’s unlawful detention of Evan Gershkovich, a respected journalist, is a blatant violation of press freedom and an attack on journalism as a whole. This incident further demonstrates Russia’s disregard for the rule of law and its oppressive actions against independent media. It is unacceptable that Gershkovich has been held on fabricated charges without credible evidence.
This is just one example of Russia’s long history of unjustly detaining U.S. citizens and undermining press freedom. It is time for Russia to be held accountable for its actions and release Gershkovich immediately. The U.S. government must take a strong stance in defense of journalism and the rights of journalists to do their job without fear of persecution. We support the principles of a free press and call on Russia to uphold these fundamental values.
Do you believe Russia’s detention of Evan Gershkovich is a violation of press freedom?