‘Journalism is not a crime’

Evan Gershkovich's detention in Russia extended until at least March 30


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Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who grew up in Princeton, will remain behind bars in Russia until March 30 while he is awaiting trial on espionage charges.

A judge in Moscow granted the Federal Security Service’s request to detain Gershkovich in Lefortovo Prison at a closed hearing Jan. 26, according to published reports. It marks the fourth extension of his detention since he was arrested in 2023.

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Gershkovich, who graduated from Princeton High School in 2010, was arrested on March 29, 2023 in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on charges of espionage, according to The Wall Street Journal. He was on a reporting assignment for the newspaper when he was arrested.

The Princeton native has been accused of spying for the United States government – a charge that The Wall Street Journal, the United States government and Gershkovich have denied.

The Wall Street Journal and its parent company, Dow Jones, stated that “it was outrageous that Gershkovich has spent nearly one year in custody” in a statement released by the newspaper and its owner Jan. 26.

“While these are clearly sham proceedings about patently false charges, we intend to appeal the ruling, as we have in the past. Journalism is not a crime and we continue to demand Evan’s immediate release,” according to the statement.

At a Dec. 14, 2023 press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his administration would like to release Gershkovich, but the agreement must be mutually acceptable, according to published accounts in The Wall Street Journal.

Putin was responding to a question about Russia’s rejection of an offer aimed at freeing Gershkovich and another American, Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16-year sentence for espionage.

The deal, which was rejected, reportedly involved trading prisoners held by the United States in exchange for Gershkovich and Whelan.

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

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

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.

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 Russian, Ukraine and other countries in the former Soviet Union.

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