Russia Dismisses Western Outrage Over US journalist’s Arrest on Espionage Charges

Sun Apr 02 2023
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MOSCOW: The arrest of American journalist Evan Gershkovich on espionage charges in Russia has sparked outrage in the West, with US officials calling for his immediate release.

However, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has dismissed the Western “hype” over the case, saying that Gershkovich’s fate will be decided in court.

In a rare call from his American counterpart Antony Blinken, Lavrov said that Gershkovich had been “trying to receive some secret information” when he was arrested this week.

“Under the cover of his journalist status, Gershkovich was collecting secrete information classified as a state secret,” the Russian foreign ministry said Lavrov told Blinken.

A 31-year-old journalist for the Wall Street Journal has been arrested in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on charges of spying.

US journalist held for espionage

The journalist, who is believed to be the first foreign journalist held for espionage in post-Soviet Russia, has been identified as Mark Gershkovich. The arrest is expected to escalate tensions between Russia and the West amid Moscow’s campaign in Ukraine.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has stated that a court will determine Gershkovich’s fate and has called on officials in Washington and Western media to refrain from politicizing the case.

Gershkovich has denied the charges against him and has been remanded over espionage in custody until May 29, pending trial.

The arrest has drawn huge outrage from the Western world and is being seen as a serious escalation of Moscow’s crackdown on the media.

US President Joe Biden has called for Gershkovich’s release but has not agreed to expel Russian journalists from the United States.

The White House has condemned the allegations as “baseless” and has warned Americans currently in Russia to leave for their own safety.

Several other US citizens are in jail in Russia, including Paul Whelan, a former Marine, who was detained in 2018 and handed a 16-year sentence on espionage charges that he denies.

US officials have not ruled out the possibility of a prisoner swap.

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