American reporter for Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Evan Gershkovich was arrested in Russia on espionage charges, Russia’s top security agency said on March 30.
WSJ in a statement said, “The Wall Street Journal is deeply concerned for the safety of Gershkovich.”
The Federal Security Service (FSB), top KGB successor agency, said that the WSJ reporter was detained from the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg while he allegedly tried to obtain classified information.
In a statement, FSB said, “Gershkovich acting on the instructions of the American side, collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex,” read a WSJ report.
The FSB has also alleged that Gershkovich “was collecting classified information about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex that constitutes a state secret,” according to Al-Jazeera.
The local media stated that he was covering the war in Ukraine and the Wagner mercenary group before getting detained.
The mention of the date of arrest was not there in its statement; however, Gershkovich could be imprisoned for about 20 years if he gets convicted of espionage.
Ever since the Cold War, he is the first journalist from an American news organisation to be detained in Russia on suspicion of espionage, and his detention comes at a time of intense international concern due to the conflict in Ukraine, according to Al-Jazeera.
Gershkovich covers Russia and Ukraine and was duly accredited as a journalist as a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal’s Moscow office.
His most recent assessment, which was released last week, concentrated on the stagnation of the Russian economy in the face of Western sanctions.
The Wall Street Journal hired Gershkovich, 31, who was formerly employed by AFP in Moscow. Before, he worked as a reporter for The Moscow Times, according to his bio in Wall Street Journal.
Gershkovich speaks Russian as his parents are from the Soviet Union but now residing in the United States, Al-Jazeera reported.