March 31, 2023

Troubling news out of Russia.

Evan Gershkovich, a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal based in Moscow, is being detained by Russian authorities and accused of espionage.

In a statement, the Russian Federal Security Service said Gershkovich “is suspected of spying in the interests of the American government.” The RFS said Gershkovich is being detained in Yekaterinburg, a city about 900 miles east of Moscow.

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said, “We’re not talking about suspicions. He was caught red-handed.”

However, the spokesperson offered no details.

The Wall Street Journal immediately denied Russia’s claims, writing, “The Wall Street Journal vehemently denies the allegations from the FSB and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter, Evan Gershkovich. We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family.”

Almar Latour, the chief executive of Dow Jones, which publishes The Wall Street Journal, told staff in a memo, “This is an incredibly disturbing development,”

In a statement, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, “The targeting of American citizens by the Russian government is unacceptable. We condemn the detention of Mr. Gershkovich in the strongest terms. We also condemn the Russian government’s continued targeting and repression of journalists and freedom of the press.”

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the U.S. wants consular access to Gershkovich, and said, “In the strongest possible terms, we condemn the Kremlin’s continued attempts to intimidate, repress, and punish journalists and civil society voices.”

The New York Times’ Daniel Victor and Michael M. Grynbaum wrote, “His detention comes as relations between Russia and the United States continue to deteriorate, with Washington leading a coalition of nations supporting Ukraine’s military defense and pushing for Moscow’s further diplomatic and economic isolation.” They added, “The detention is an ominous sign for the rights of foreign journalists based in Russia.”

As if tensions could get much higher between the U.S. and Russia.

The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Michaels and Vivian Salama wrote, “Mr. Gershkovich’s detention and charge on the allegation of espionage mean the case is likely to become a high-level diplomatic issue, and is also expected to heighten tensions between Moscow and Washington.”

The Associated Press reported that Gershkovich is the first American reporter to be arrested on espionage charges in Russia since 1986. That’s when Nicholas Daniloff, a Moscow correspondent for U.S. News and World Report, was arrested by the KGB. He was released 20 days later when he was swapped for a Russian who was arrested by the FBI on spying charges.

But Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov didn’t sound as if a swap was possible at this time, telling Russian news services, “I wouldn’t even consider this issue now because people who were previously swapped had already served their sentences.”

And now onto the rest of today’s media news, tidbits and links for your weekend review …

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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