Biden Marks Anniversary of Reporter’s Arrest in Russia With Promise to Bring Him Home

President Biden marked the Friday anniversary of the detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich in Russia with a statement that said the U.S. is “working every day to secure his release.”

Gershkovich, now 32, was arrested March 29, 2023, in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg while on a reporting trip, with authorities claiming he was caught spying “red-handed.” He’s had multiple hearings but remains in pretrial detention, confined to a small cell in a notorious prison in eastern Moscow.

The Journal dedicated the top half of its website to the imprisoned journalist, with a striking package that included a large photo and multiple stories under an all-caps banner that read, “Evan Gershkovich | One Year Stolen.”

“It is well past time for this talented reporter and innocent man to come home,” WSJ Editor-in-Chief Emma Tucker wrote in a letter to readers that was part of the package. “Evan has shown remarkable willpower, strength and even humor during his wrongful detention. We are amazed at his—and his family’s—steadfastness in the face of such a harrowing ordeal.”

“But their fortitude doesn’t change the fact that Evan’s detention is a blatant attack on the rights of the free press at a time when evidence abounds around the globe of the vital role that quality journalism plays in our society’s understanding of world events and in bearing witness to history,” she continued.

Noting that the world “has become an increasingly dangerous environment for journalists who put themselves on the front lines to bring you the story,” she also pointed to the more than 520 other journalists imprisoned worldwide – the highest number that advocacy group Reporters Without Borders has ever counted.

Journal staffers around the world held events to mark the anniversary and call attention to Gershkovich’s case over the past week, as they have throughout his year in jail.

“Journalism is not a crime, and Evan went to Russia to do his job as a reporter —risking his safety to shine the light of truth on Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine,” Biden said in his statement. “Shortly after his wholly unjust and illegal detention, he drafted a letter to his family from prison, writing: ‘I am not losing hope.'”

“As I have told Evan’s parents, I will never give up hope either,” the president’s statement continued. “We will continue working every day to secure his release. We will continue to denounce and impose costs for Russia’s appalling attempts to use Americans as bargaining chips. And we will continue to stand strong against all those who seek to attack the press or target journalists—the pillars of free society.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has addressed Gershkovich’s detention several times, most recently last month, when he told Tucker Carlson that Moscow was “ready to talk” about his continued imprisonment, while insisting that the reporter is a spy.

“If a person gets secret information and does that in a conspiratorial manner, then this is qualified as espionage,” Putin said. “And that is exactly what he was doing. He was receiving classified confidential information, and he did it covertly.”

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