The Society of Editors has called for the immediate release of Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter whose detention in Russia has been described by the press freedom organisation as “deeply concerning”.
Gershkovich, a distinguished Moscow-based reporter covering Russia, Ukraine and the former Soviet Union for the Wall Street Journal, was detained last week following accusations by Russia of espionage.
The Journal has denied any wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Gershkovich and called for his immediate release. “We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family,” the Journal said.
The paper said that it had lost contact with the reporter on Wednesday 29 March 2023 with it later transpiring that Gershkovich had been detained by Russia's FSB security service on suspicion of spying on behalf of the US.
The allegation has also been denied by the Biden administration, with the President calling for Gershkovich to be freed.
Responding to the arrest, Kamal Ahmed, President of the UK-based Society of Editors, said: “The arrest in Russia of Evan Gershkovich while carrying out his professional role as a journalist is deeply concerning. Gershkovich lived in Moscow for a number of years and, as has been widely documented, has a long record as a respected reporter.
“No journalist should ever be arrested for doing their job and it is essential that reporters, worldwide, remain free to fulfil their roles without fear of intimidation or arrest. We urge the Russian government to grant Gershkovich’s immediate release.”
Gershkovich’s arrest is the first time Russia has brought a spy case against an overseas reporter since the Cold War. Espionage in Russia carries a maximum jail term of 20 years.
The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists has called on the Russian government to release Gershkovich and in a statement, the Wall Street Journal described him as a “distinguished reporter”.
The Journal added: “We know what’s going on in the world because of the fearless reporting of journalists like Evan. Evan’s case is a vicious affront to a free press and should spur outrage in all free people and governments throughout the world.”Keep up-to-date with publishing news: sign up here for InPubWeekly, our free weekly e-newsletter.