Thursday, 08 Jun 2023

Let him go: Joe Biden calls on Russia to release US journalist

Let him go: Joe Biden calls on Russia to release US journalist


Let him go: Joe Biden calls on Russia to release US journalist

President Joe Biden has called on Russia to release Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter arrested earlier this week on espionage charges and facing 20 years in jail.

"Let him go," said Biden, when asked about the case on Friday. Previously, the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, described the espionage charges levelled against Gershkovich as "ridiculous".

The prospect of a speedy release seems increasingly unlikely, however, as Russian officials continue to speak about Gershkovich in terms suggesting his conviction is a foregone conclusion.

"We are dealing with activity conducted under the cover of journalism, activity that is essentially espionage. Since he was caught red-handed, the situation is plain and simple," said Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for Vladimir Putin.

Gershkovich was arrested in Ekaterinburg on Wednesday, and flown to Moscow, where a court on Thursday officially charged him with espionage and remanded him in custody until the end of May.

The Wall Street Journal has vehemently denied the charges against the 31-year-old reporter, and friends and colleagues of Gershkovich have described the accusations as ludicrous.

Observers have suggested two possible motives for the arrest: to stifle critical reporting on Russia even further, and to take Gershkovich "hostage" as a bargaining chip for a possible future exchange for Russian spies caught in the west. Being included in such an exchange may be Gershkovich's best chance of a speedy release.

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