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WSJ Marks Evan Gershkovich’s 1-Year Detention With Stunning Blank Front Page

“His story should be here,” the headline boldly reads over a gaping blank front page across Wall Street Journal newspapers distributed Friday.

The powerful print marks exactly one year since American journalist and WSJ correspondent Evan Gershkovich was arrested in Russia on espionage charges. Gershkovich, The Wall Street Journal and the U.S. government have denied the alleged crimes, which a trial date has yet to be set for.

His actual crime is “journalism,” The Wall Street Journal asserts at the top of its newspaper recognizing his “one year stolen”: “A year of stolen stories, stolen joys, stolen memories.”

“It is well past time for this talented reporter and innocent man to come home,” the paper’s editor-in-chief, Emma Tucker, said in an open letter Friday that recognized not just Gershkovich’s capture, but the detention of hundreds of other journalists in global, targeted attacks on the free press.

“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,” Tucker wrote. “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.”

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a transparent cage in a courtroom at the Moscow City Court in Moscow on Dec. 14, 2023.
Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a transparent cage in a courtroom at the Moscow City Court in Moscow on Dec. 14, 2023. via Associated Press

“We know that he is innocent of what he’s being accused of. He’s a journalist,” Gershkovich’s father, Mikhail Gershkovich, told The Wall Street Journal in a sit-down interview with wife Ella Milman ahead of the anniversary of their son’s capture.

Milman said that she stays up late to follow overseas court hearings for updates and to potentially catch a glimpse of her son, who she said appears well, though she suspects he is putting on a front for his family’s well-being.

“He put the bar up high and we need to follow his example,” she said while acknowledging their anguish. “I miss my son.”

Evan Gershkovich's parents, Ella Milman and Mikhail Gershkovich, have expressed hope for their son's release.
Evan Gershkovich's parents, Ella Milman and Mikhail Gershkovich, have expressed hope for their son's release. via Associated Press

Evan Gershkovich was taken into custody while on assignment in Yekaterinburg on March 29, 2023. He was accredited by the Russian Foreign Ministry to work as a journalist when he was detained and thrown into a Moscow jail cell.

“Journalism is not a crime,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in his own statement Friday recognizing Gershkovich’s one-year detention. Biden vowed to continue working to secure the journalist’s release and to continue denouncing and imposing costs upon Russia for its “appalling attempts to use Americans as bargaining chips.”

Other Americans deemed wrongfully detained by Russia include former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who was arrested in 2018 and accused of spying. Russia in late 2022 released WNBA player Brittney Griner, who was held on drug charges, in exchange for the release of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an interview last month, said that he believes “an agreement can be reached” in Gershkovich’s capture too.

Foreign affairs experts say that Putin likely feels no urgency in brokering a deal, however, and that he will wait until it fully benefits him.

“If Putin thinks he can gain a better PR coup by waiting for a more favorable opportunity to negotiate under a Trump presidency, then he will be perfectly content to do this,” Precious Chatterje-Doody, a senior lecturer in politics and international studies at The Open University in England, recently told HuffPost while speculating on former President Donald Trump’s 2024 reelection campaign.

Fiona Hill, who served as a Russia specialist in the Trump White House, also told The Wall Street Journal that Putin “will take more and more Americans.”

“He has figured out he can exploit our domestic preoccupations and anxieties,” she told the outlet.

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