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  • AutorenbildRichard Krauss

US journalist Evan Gershkovich on trial in Russia for espionage

Moscow – The American journalist Evan Gershkovich, who works for the renowned Wall Street Journal, has been on trial in Russia since June 26, 2024 on charges of espionage.

Russian authorities accuse the 32-year-old reporter of collecting classified information about a defense company in the Sverdlovsk region that poses a threat to Russia's national security. Gershkovich and the Wall Street Journal strongly deny these allegations, stressing that he was simply pursuing his journalistic activities.

Gershkovich was arrested in March 2023 while conducting research in Yekaterinburg and has been in pre-trial detention since then, lasting over 14 months. The length of this pre-trial detention, as well as the harsh prison conditions he is subjected to, underscore the severity of the situation.

Most notably, Gershkovich is the first Western journalist since the end of the Cold War to be detained in Russia on espionage charges, highlighting the importance and international implications of the case.

The US government has rejected the allegations as unfounded and is calling for his immediate release. US President Joe Biden called the journalist's detention "unacceptable" and a clear attack on press freedom. International organizations such as Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have also called for Gershkovich's release and criticized the Russian government.

Bojan Pancevski, a colleague of Gershkovich at the Wall Street Journal, said in an interview with Deutschlandfunk that the allegations against Gershkovich were baseless. He stressed that Gershkovich had always worked to the highest professional standards. The allegations were obviously intended to deter other journalists who wanted to report critically about Russia.

The Wall Street Journal has repeatedly called for Gershkovich's release and stressed that his work is in line with international journalistic standards. The newspaper has launched an extensive campaign to draw attention to the case and is receiving support from various media organizations and human rights groups around the world. In a statement, the Wall Street Journal emphasizes that Gershkovich is a conscientious and committed journalist and that the allegations against him are completely unfounded.

The arrest and trial of Gershkovich have further exacerbated already strained relations between the US and Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already spoken out in favor of a possible prisoner exchange that could include Gershkovich. This move is seen as part of the diplomatic negotiations that are being intensively used to find a solution.

Another aspect of importance in this context concerns the "Tiergarten murderer" Vadim Krasikov in Germany. There is speculation that Russia could use the Gershkovich case as leverage to exert influence on the negotiations on Krasikov, who is imprisoned in Germany.

Russia has long been criticized for repressing independent and critical journalists. Gershkovich's arrest is seen as another example of the restriction of press freedom in Russia. Observers fear that the case could have a chilling effect on other foreign journalists reporting from Russia.

The international community is following the trial of Evan Gershkovich with great attention. It remains to be seen how the case will develop and what impact it will have on press freedom and diplomatic relations between the US and Russia. Gershkovich's colleagues and supporters around the world hope for his speedy release and his return to his important work as a journalist.

Dossier: Evan Gershkovich

Evan Gershkovich is an American journalist who has made a name for himself through his in-depth reporting on Russia and its political and economic landscape. Born on October 26, 1991, he graduated from Bowdoin College with a degree in philosophy and is fluent in English and Russian.

Gershkovich began his journalistic career at prestigious publications such as the New York Times and the Moscow Times before becoming a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, where he distinguished himself through his investigative reporting, particularly on the impact of international sanctions on the Russian economy and the complex political dynamics in the country.

His most notable work includes covering the annexation of Crimea, Russian interference in the US elections, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. His on-the-ground reporting during critical moments in Russian politics and international relations has earned him high esteem.

On March 29, 2023, Gershkovich was appointedn Russian authorities on espionage charges. The charge under Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code sparked outrage around the world and was condemned by international media organizations and human rights groups as a retaliatory measure against Western journalists.

The US government, the Wall Street Journal and numerous journalists' associations have since called for his immediate release. An international campaign was launched to secure his freedom and to point out the importance of press freedom and the protection of journalists.

The trial began on June 26, 2024, behind closed doors.

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