Biden says US won’t expel Russian diplomats over arrested journalist

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden speaks during a reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, March 29, 2023, celebrating Greek Independence Day. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Biden says US won’t expel Russian diplomats over arrested journalist

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President Joe Biden said the United States would not expel Russian journalists or diplomats in response to the arrest of a Wall Street Journal reporter who was accused of espionage.

Biden, in his first comments regarding the arrest of Evan Gershkovich, told reporters on Friday that Russia should “let him go,” and then, when asked about the expulsion of Russian diplomats or reporters, said, “That’s not the plan right now.”

US CONDEMNS RUSSIA’S ARREST OF WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORTER

The Federal Security Service said in a statement on Thursday that it had arrested Gershkovich, claiming that the journalist was “acting on the instructions of the American side, collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex.”

White House spokeswoman declared the espionage charges to be “ridiculous” and added: “The targeting of American citizens by Russian government is unacceptable. We condemn the detention of Mr. Gershkovich in the strongest — in the strongest terms. We also condemn the Russian government’s continued targeting and repression of journalists.”

White House and State Department officials have spoken with the Wall Street Journal and Gershkovich’s family, and the department has been in “direct touch” with the Russian government, Jean-Pierre added.

The court ordered him to be held in custody until May 29, while a charge of espionage is punishable by 20 years in prison in Russia’s judicial system.

The WSJ “vehemently” denied the allegation, while its editorial board argued that expelling Russian diplomats was the least Biden could do.

“The Biden Administration will have to consider diplomatic and political escalation. Expelling Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., as well as all Russian journalists working here, would be the minimum to expect. The U.S. government’s first duty is to protect its citizens, and too many governments now believe they can arrest and imprison Americans with impunity,” the board said.

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The editorial piece argued that the administration has repeatedly not responded to various acts of Russian aggression, ranging from the arrest of American citizens to the more aggressive maneuvers from Russian military pilots that ultimately resulted in a crash earlier this month.

It also highlighted the declining ability of the U.S. to deter foreign governments and entities from detaining Americans abroad, referencing the recent detention of Brittney Griner, who was arrested in Russia on February 2022 on charges of drug possession. She was ultimately swapped in exchange for famous arms dealer Viktor Bout.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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