Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has claimed that Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich was “caught red-handed”.
“It [Gershkovich’s detention] is the FSB prerogative. They have already issued a statement. We have nothing to add. The only thing I can say is that as far as we know he was caught red-handed,” Peskov said.
When asked if the reporter’s detention will lead to a shutdown of Russian correspondent bureaus in the US, Peskov said that he hoped it would not come to this.
“This should not happen because it is not about suspicions, he was caught red-handed,” he reiterated.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also commented on the development. “What the staffer of The Wall Street Journal was doing in Yekaterinburg has nothing to do with journalism. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the status of ‘foreign correspondent’, journalist visa, and accreditation are abused by foreigners in our country to cover up activities that have little to do with journalism. It is not the first time that a famous Westerner is caught red-handed,” she wrote.
The Wall Street Journal rejected any accusations against the reporter. “The Wall Street Journal vehemently denies the allegations from the FSB and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter, Evan Gershkovich. We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family,” the statement reads.
The news of Gershkovich’s detention emerged earlier today. According to the Russian Security Service (FSB), the journalist was collecting confidential information about a Russian defence industry facility as ordered by the US. He is now facing a criminal case on charges of “espionage”.
Meduza reports citing its source in the Western reporter circles that Evan Gershkovich in the course of his journalistic work travelled to Nizhny Tagil where the Uralvagonzavod defence industry facility is located.
Evan Gershkovich works in the WSJ Moscow bureau that covers events in Russia, Ukraine, and other post-Soviet countries.