June 14, 2024

The news out of Russia regarding Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has become more disturbing.

Russian prosecutors announced Thursday that Gershkovich has been indicted and is now scheduled to stand trial on trumped-up charges of espionage.

Gershkovich was arrested in March 2023 on accusations of being a spy. The Wall Street Journal has vehemently denied that Gershkovich is a spy and the U.S. government considers Gershkovich to be “wrongfully detained.”

In a statement, Dow Jones CEO and Wall Street Journal publisher Almar Latour and Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Emma Tucker demanded Gershkovich’s immediate release. They also asked the Biden administration to “redouble efforts to get Evan released.”

They wrote, “Evan Gershkovich is facing a false and baseless charge. 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. Evan is a journalist. The Russian regime’s smearing of Evan is repugnant, disgusting and based on calculated and transparent lies. Journalism is not a crime. Evan’s case is an assault on free press.”

Russia’s decision to send Gershkovich to trial comes after more than a year of pretrial detention and denied appeals. If convicted, Gershkovich could face up to 20 years in prison. If there is such a trial, it likely would be held in secret, behind closed doors because Russia claims it involves classified material. The New York Times’ Ivan Nechepurenko reported a trial could last anywhere from four months to a year.

The Wall Street Journal’s Ann M. Simmons wrote, “In a statement Thursday, Russian authorities falsely said that Gershkovich was gathering information about a defense contractor on behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency. In fact, Gershkovich was on a reporting assignment for the Journal. Russian authorities haven’t publicly presented evidence to back up their allegations. At a trial, Gershkovich would enjoy little, if any, of the due process he would be afforded in the U.S. or other countries.”

There had been some thought that the Russian government was using Gershkovich as a political pawn and would eventually try to arrange a prisoner swap. In February, Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted that something like that could happen.

The U.S. government is trying to get Gershkovich released, as well as U.S. businessman Paul Whelan, who has been detained in Russia for five years and is serving a 16-year sentence.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Thursday the allegations against Gershkovich have “absolutely zero credibility.”

The Journal quoted a senior administration official as saying, “We have been clear from the start that Evan has done nothing wrong and never should have been arrested in the first place. Journalism is not a crime. We expect Russian authorities to continue to provide consular access to Evan and Embassy Moscow will make efforts to attend any future proceedings. Russia should stop using individuals like Evan Gershkovich or Paul Whelan as bargaining chips. They should both be released immediately.”

And now for more media news, tidbits and interesting links for your weekend review …

“CBS Mornings” correspondent Anthony Mason, left, talks with the original members of the music band R.E.M.. From left to right, they are Peter Buck, Bill Berry, Michael Stipe and Mike Mills. (Courtesy: CBS News)

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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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