Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was arrested in Russia Thursday on suspicion of spying — marking the first time a US correspondent has been detained on espionage charges since the Cold War.
Russia claims the 31-year-old American was “caught red-handed” trying to obtain classified information about one of the Kremlin’s military-industrial complexes.
Gershkovich, who pleaded not guilty in a Moscow court, was taken into custody in the city of Yekaterinburg, Russia’s Federal Security Service said.
The WSJ, where Gershkovich has worked for just over a year, has denied the allegations and said they are “deeply concerned” about the safety of their “trusted and dedicated reporter.”
Here’s what we know about Evan Gershkovich:
Who is Evan Gershkovich?
Gershkovich is a US national who was raised in New Jersey.
He is the son of Soviet Jewish immigrants who currently live in Philadelphia, records show.
Gershkovich was a 2014 graduate of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where he majored in philosophy and English, according to his LinkedIn profile.
He speaks fluent Russian.
How long has he worked at WSJ?
Gershkovich has been working as a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal for just over a year.
He lives in London but traveled frequently to the WSJ’s Moscow bureau for reporting trips.
Gershkovich covers Russia, Ukraine and the former Soviet Union for the news outlet.
What was he doing in Russia?
Gershkovich has been based in Moscow since 2017, according to his LinkedIn.
He had previously worked as a Russian-based reporter for the French news agency Agence France-Presse and The Moscow Times. He was also previously a news assistant at The New York Times.
Russia’s Federal Security Service acknowledged that Gershkovich had accreditation from the Russian Foreign Ministry to work there as a journalist.
What was he reporting on?
Gershkovich’s last report from Moscow, which was published earlier this week, focused on Russia’s economic slowdown amid Western sanctions that were imposed when troops invaded Ukraine last year.
In recent months, he primarily covered Russian politics and the conflict in Ukraine.
Yaroslav Shirshikov, a political expert in Yekaterinburg, said Gershkovich had recently interviewed him about local attitudes towards the Wagner mercenary group, which is fighting in Ukraine.
Shirshikov said he met with the reporter two weeks ago and was scheduled to see him again Thursday.
Russia’s accusations — what are they?
Federal Security Service has accused Gershkovich of gathering information classified as a state secret about a military factory.
It has not specified the name of the factory or where it is.
Russia has claimed the American reporter was detained in Yekaterinburg as he was allegedly trying to procure secret information.
The Kremlin, who claims he was “caught red-handed”, hasn’t provided evidence of his guilt.
“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,” the FSB said.
What has the WSJ said?
The WSJ quickly issued a statement in the wake of Gershkovich’s arrest, saying the outlet “vehemently denies the allegations.”
The statement added the news outlet was seeking “the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter, Evan Gershkovich. We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family.”
With Post wires