Russia Imprisons WSJ Reporter On Spying Allegations

(Photo by YURI KADOBNOV/AFP via Getty Images)

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An American journalist has been imprisoned by Russia after the country’s Federal Security Service (FSB) accused the reporter of spying for the United States.

Russian officials announced the arrest of 31-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich who was working within the country on an accreditation issued by the Russian foreign ministry, CBS News reported. In a statement regarding his arrest, officials claimed they had “halted the illegal activities” of Gershkovich, further claiming he was “suspected of spying in the interests of the American government,” the outlet continued.

“The foreigner was detained in Yekaterinburg while attempting to obtain classified information,” the FSB stated, according to CBS News.

Gershkovich’s arrest comes after contributing to a recent story in the WSJ on the Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary force whose mercenaries are at the “forefront” of the war in Ukraine, primarily centered around the beleaguered town of Bakhmut, CBS News reported. In that report, the WSJ highlighted the Wagner group’s founder Yevgeny Prigozhin and his battle with Kremlin officials whom he has criticized.

The Russian Defense Ministry have reportedly asked Putin to “rein in” Prigozhin, even as the Wagner Group, whose fighters had been recruited from Russia’s prisons, gained ground in Ukraine. If Wagner were to successfully occupy Bakhmut, the WSJ reported, “it would be the first significant Russian victory since last summer,” effectively “showing up” the standard Russian military forces who have been grappling with multiple failures. (RELATED: ‘Taken By Surprise’: Russian Forces Retreat Under Major Ukrainian Counteroffensive On Eastern Front)

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova doubled down on the allegations against Gershkovich, announcing that the reporter’s activities in Yekaterinburg had “nothing to do with journalism,” CBS News reported.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the status of a ‘foreign correspondent’, a journalistic visa and accreditation are used by foreigners in our country to cover up activities that are not journalism,” Zakharova continued.

Government spokesman Dmitry Peskov referred the matter of Gershkovich’s arrest to Russia’s security services, but stated that it was understood by Kremlin officials the reporter had been caught “red-handed.”

The WSJ expressed its deep concern for the safety of Gershkovich, while “vehemently” denying the spying  allegations put forth by the FSB. The outlet further stated it “seeks the immediate release”  of their “trusted and dedicated reporter, Evan Gershkovich. We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family.”