Russia Sends US Reporter to Court for Alleged Espionage

Trent Barr
Trent Barr
Trent has years of experience and training in open source intelligence gathering and journalism. He specializes in Latin American, German, and Vatican affairs, with a broader interest in European politics. Trent serves as the Latin America Desk Chief for Atlas News.

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Russian prosecutors announced that a United States reporter would go to trial due to the reporter’s alleged role in gathering information on a tank factory for the CIA in the nation. The reporter, Evan Gershkovich, has been held by Russian authorities since March 2023 after his arrest in Yekaterinburg, located near the Ural Mountains.

Alleged Spying

Both the United States and Gershkovich’s employer, the Wall Street Journal, have denied the accusations that Gershkovich was spying for the CIA, while the US government has designated the journalist as wrongfully detained. US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller denounced the charges, claiming that there was “absolutely zero credibility to those charges” before stating the US government would continue their efforts to return Gershkovich to US soil.

 “Evan has done nothing wrong. He should never have been arrested in the first place. Journalism is not a crime,” the spokesman stated. “The charges against him are false. And the Russian government knows that they’re false. He should be released immediately.”

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller during a press conference. (Photo – Mostafa Bassim/Anadolu/Getty Images)

“The investigation has established and confirmed with documentary evidence that Gershkovich, an American journalist for The Wall Street Journal, on the instructions of the CIA, collected secret information in the Sverdlovsk region in March 2023 about the activities of the defense plant NPK Uralvagonzavod JSC on the production and repair of military equipment,” a statement from prosecutors’ said.

Russian officials have stated they would only pursue a prisoner swap if Gershkovich is convicted, while Roger Carstens, the United States’s Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs, stated that he remains hopeful about securing the release of the journalist.

Russian President Vladimir Putin previously stated that he believes a prisoner swap could be facilitated, with analysts suggesting the government may plan to trade Gershkovich for convicted murderer and Russian citizen Vadim Krasikov, who was imprisoned in Germany following his role in the killing of a Chechen man in Berlin in 2019. Krasikov was to be transferred to Russia in a deal to secure the release of Russian political opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was found dead in February.

The Wall Street Journal released a statement following the announced trial:

“Evan Gershkovich is facing a false and baseless charge,” the news outlet stated. “Russia’s latest move toward a sham trial is, while expected, deeply disappointing and still no less outrageous. Evan has spent 441 days wrongfully detained in a Russian prison for simply doing his job.”

“The Russian regime’s smearing of Evan is repugnant, disgusting, and based on calculated and transparent lies,” the statement concluded.

Gershkovich is the first journalist to have been arrested in Russia on espionage charges since the height of the Cold War. Gershkovich is the son of a Russian mother and Ukrainian father. The pair settled in New Jersey during the Cold War before meeting and getting married. Gershkovich moved to Russia to work for the Moscow Times in 2017 until he was hired by the Wall Street Journal in 2022.