Gershkovich Sends Message: 'I Am Humbled'

'WSJ' reporter detained in Russia gets support from Griner, Biden, 3 big US newspapers
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2023 6:38 AM CDT
Gershkovich Sends Message: 'I Am Humbled'
"Wall Street Journal" reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a courtroom in Moscow on April 18.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

Last week, the world caught a glimpse of detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich in a Moscow courtroom, looking calm as he stood in a glass cage and heard that his appeal to be released while awaiting an investigation into the spying charges against him was turned down. Now, we're finally hearing from him, too. "I am humbled and deeply touched by all the letters I received," the 31-year-old American wrote in a very short statement that was disseminated late Thursday by his Russian attorneys via Dow Jones, per the Daily Beast. "I've read each one carefully, with gratitude." More on the plight of the reporter, said to be the first US journalist detained by Russia under espionage allegations since the Cold War:

  • Visit rejected: Also Thursday, Russia's Foreign Ministry revealed it had spurned a US request for a May 11 consular visit with Gershkovich, reports the AP. The ministry said that the rebuff was the consequence of the US denying visas to Russian reporters who'd planned to accompany Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on a trip to the United Nations. The move came after Lavrov asserted that Russia "will not forget and will not forgive" the visa denials.
  • Public plea: Al Jazeera reports that the latest show of support for Gershkovich from his own industry came Thursday via a full-page color ad in three of America's most prominent newspapers. "As editors and publishers of some of America's largest news organizations, we are united in calling for his immediate release," read the letter, signed by top editors and execs at the Journal, as well as the New York Times and Washington Post. "Reporting is not a crime." The ad went on to note that Gershkovich's arrest "is the latest in a disturbing trend where journalists are harassed, arrested, or worse for reporting the news."
  • Griner's take: If anyone knows how it might feel for Gershkovich at the moment, it's WNBA star Brittney Griner, who herself was detained by Russia for 10 months. "No one should be in those conditions, hands down," she said Thursday during her first news conference since her December release, per the New York Times. She also said she had the "mind-set of ... no man, no woman left behind." More here.

  • Prisoner swap? During his visit to the UN, Lavrov suggested that a back channel remains open for discussions on possibly swapping Gershkovich out for Russians held by the US, though he was mum on details, per the London Times. "This is work that is not public in nature, and publicity here will only complicate the process," he said.
  • Word on Whelan: That paper also notes that the US is still working on the release of American Paul Whelan, who's been held in Russia since 2018. "Paul told our parents he feels as though the US government has abandoned him," Whelan's twin brother, David, said this week, noting his sibling had been permitted to make a recent call home from his prison camp in Mordovia.
  • Consequences for Russia: President Biden also had something to say about Gershkovich and Whelan's situations. "Today, and every day, our message to Russia, Iran, and the world is holding hostage or wrongfully detaining Americans is unacceptable. Release them immediately," he said Thursday in a statement, per the AP, which notes that both Russia's Federal Security Service and Iran's intelligence service, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, had been hit with sanctions for holding Americans unjustly.
(More Evan Gershkovich stories.)

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