Accessibility links

Breaking News

US journalist held in Russian prison for 400 days

FILE - Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a courtroom at the Moscow City Court, in Moscow, Russia, on Dec. 14, 2023.
FILE - Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a courtroom at the Moscow City Court, in Moscow, Russia, on Dec. 14, 2023.

Four hundred days.

That's how long American journalist Evan Gershkovich has been held in a Russian prison.

Russia's Federal Security Service detained him while he was on assignment for U.S. newspaper The Wall Street Journal in the city of Yekaterinburg and accused him of espionage.

The newspaper and the U.S. government have denied the charges against the now 32-year-old reporter.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Thursday at a U.S.-hosted event on the eve of World Press Freedom Day that reporters are too often wrongfully detained for "simply telling the truth."

"That was Evan's crime. Reporting the facts about Russia's illegal war in Ukraine," she said.

Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in March 2022. Gershkovich was arrested a day after publishing a report on how the war had hurt Russia's economy.

Thomas-Greenfield said the Biden administration will not rest until Gershkovich is reunited with his family. His parents and sister were present at the event.

Mariana Katzarova, U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation, told the gathering by video from Bulgaria that she is very concerned that Gershkovich has been held for over a year without a trial or evidence.

"The arrest and detention of Evan raises serious concerns about his personal safety, as well as the safety of all foreign journalists conducting their legitimate business in Russia," she said.

In October 2023, dual U.S.-Russian national Alsu Kurmasheva, 47, who works for VOA's sister outlet Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, was also arrested in Russia. She remains jailed on charges of failing to self-register as a so-called foreign agent and spreading what Moscow views as false information about the Russian military. If convicted, she could face up to 15 years in prison.

Kurmasheva was in Russia to visit her elderly and ailing mother.

Katzarova said Russia has one of the highest conviction rates in the world.

"Once charged, the likelihood of being found guilty in the Russian court is very high," she said, "raising concerns about the fairness and independence of the judiciary in Russia and about the rights of the accused to a fair trial."

David Rohde, an American journalist who was kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2008 but escaped after seven months in captivity, told the gathering that the source of attacks on journalists has shifted in the past several years.

"There has been a dramatic change where the people detaining and in some places killing journalists has shifted from extremist groups and criminal groups to a large number of states," he said.

"It has been more than a year now, and every day is a day too long," Danielle Gershkovich said of her brother's detention.

"We need to do whatever it takes to bring him home now."