Wall Street Journal reporter, Princeton native detained on espionage charges in Russia

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U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12) calls detainment “outrageous and completely unacceptable.”

Evan Gershkovich, who graduated from Princeton High School in 2010 and who is a Wall Street Journal reporter, was arrested March 29 in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on charges of espionage, according to published reports.

Gershkovich grew up in Princeton as the child of Russian emigres. He played soccer and was the captain of the Princeton High School soccer team in 2009, school district officials said. The team went on to win the state championship.

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Princeton High School physical education teacher Wayne Sutcliffe, who is the head soccer coach, said he knew Gershkovich well.

“I have been fielding text messages all morning from our Princeton High School soccer alumni, all of whom are trying to find a way to support Evan’s family,” Sutcliffe said March 30.

Gershkovich was an outstanding student and an exceptional athlete, school district officials said. He was described as an active and engaged member of the community.

The Wall Street Journal disputed allegations that Gershkovich was spying and said it would seek his immediate release. If he is convicted of espionage, he is facing up to 20 years in prison.

U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12) said Gershkovich’s detention is “outrageous and completely unacceptable.”

“He must be safely and immediately returned to his family. I am working with my colleagues in the New Jersey delegation and the Administration to ensure his immediate release,” Watson Coleman said.

Gershkovich is believed to be the first American reporter to be held as an accused spy in Russia since the Soviet Union collapsed, The New York Times said.

The last American reporter to be detained was U.S. News and World Report correspondent Nicholas Daniloff in 1986. He was released in exchange for a Russian citizen who was being held in the United States on charges of espionage.

According to The New York Times, Gershkovich was arrested by Russian authorities for allegedly spying “in the interests of the American government.” A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that Gershkovich was caught “red-handed,” The New York Times said.

Gershkovich graduated from Bowdoin College in Maine in 2014. He majored in philosophy and English, according to published reports in The Washington Post. He got his start in journalism as an assistant at The New York Times.

He previously reported for the Moscow Times, which is an independent, English-language news outlet in Russia. He also worked for Agence France-Presse before joining The Wall Street Journal in January 2022. He covered Russia, Ukraine and other countries in the former Soviet Union, according to The Washington Post.

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