Congressional leaders release rare joint statement slamming Gershkovich’s detention in Russia on first anniversary

Congressional leaders are slamming the Russian government’s detention of American journalist Evan Gershkovich in a rare joint statement issued Friday, marking a year since his captivity began.

“Evan Gershkovich, an American citizen and reporter for the Wall Street Journal, has now spent a year wrongfully detained by Putin’s government. We continue to condemn his baseless arrest, fabricated charges, and unjust imprisonment,” Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in the statement.

Their remarks come just days after a Moscow court extended Gershkovich’s pretrial detention until June 30. The legislative leaders maintained the importance of work like Gershkovich’s in the face of his captivity.

“The Kremlin’s attempts to silence Evan and intimidate other Western reporters will not impede the pursuit of truth,” they said.

President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken also drew attention to the one-year mark.

“Today we mark a painful anniversary: one year of American journalist Evan Gershkovich’s wrongful detention in Russia,” Biden said in a statement.

The president and his top diplomat both commented on Gershkovich’s resolve.

“Evan has remained resilient despite the circumstances of living in Russian detention,” Blinken said in a statement.

Biden promised to remain hopeful.

“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,” Biden said.

“Journalism is not a crime,” read the statements from congressional leaders, Blinken and Biden.

“We are with you. We will never stop working to bring you home,” Biden said, addressing Gershkovich and “all Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad.”

Blinken and the top lawmakers also repeated calls for the Russian government to release Gershkovich immediately.

“Russia should end its practice of arbitrarily detaining individuals for political leverage and should immediately release Evan and Paul,” Blinken said, referring to Paul Whelan, another American citizen detained in Russia.

“We repeat our call for the Russian government to release Evan, Paul Whelan, and others it has wrongfully detained without further delay,” the congressional leaders said.

The Wall Street Journal’s front page Friday featured a large portion of white space and a headline saying, “HIS STORY SHOULD BE HERE” to mark the first anniversary of Gershkovich’s detention.

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