At approximately 0330 EST, Russian state-owned media announced that Wall Street Journal correspondent Evan Gershkovich was arrested by the Russian FSB in Yekaterinburg, Russia. He was reportedly arrested after visiting the Uralvagonzavod military factory and requesting a meeting with Russian political consultant Shirshkov.
According to the intelligence service, Gershkovich “acting on the instructions of the American side, carried out the collection of information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex.” The journalist was detained “while trying to obtain secret information,” the FSB reported.
A criminal case was initiated on espionage ( Article 276 of the Criminal Code , punishable by imprisonment for up to 20 years).
Gershkovich was reportedly detained at Bukowski Grill restaurant when FSB agents pulled a sweater over his head and hurried him into a waiting vehicle.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
“Evan Gershkovich has been living in Russia for about six years and works in the Moscow bureau of the American newspaper The Wall Street Journal. The journalist is accredited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. Previously, Greshkovich worked for Agence France-Presse, The Moscow Times and The New York Times. The last article by Gershkovich was published by The Wall Street Journal on March 28.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova had this to say:
“What an employee of the American edition of The Wall Street Journal was doing in Yekaterinburg has nothing to do with journalism. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the status of a “foreign correspondent”, a journalistic visa and accreditation are used by foreigners in our country to cover up activities, not which is journalism. Not the first well-known Westerner is “grabbed by the hand.”
Both the Wall Street Journal and Reporters Without Borders have decried the incident as retaliation.
Arrêté en #Russie, le reporter américain Evan Gershkovich est accusé par le FSB d'espionnage. Le correspondant du @WSJ enquêtait sur la société militaire Wagner. RSF s'alarme de ce qui semble être une mesure de "représailles" : les journalistes ne doivent pas être pris pour cible pic.twitter.com/wSIxODFJJB
— RSF (@RSF_inter) March 30, 2023