Blinken demands release of US journalist in call with Russian foreign minister

Antony Blinken,Sergey Lavrov
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov move to their seats before their meeting, Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, in Geneva, Switzerland. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool) Alex Brandon/AP

Blinken demands release of US journalist in call with Russian foreign minister

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State Secretary Antony Blinken demanded the immediate release of a United States journalist detained in Russia during a personal phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

In a rare personal communication between the two statesmen, Blinken “conveyed the United States’ grave concern over Russia’s unacceptable detention of a U.S. citizen journalist,” State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said in a statement, according to Politico. He then urged the immediate release of Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, who was one of the few remaining U.S. reporters on the ground in Russia.

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Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement obtained by the Wall Street Journal that “attention was drawn to the need to respect the decisions of the Russian authorities, taken in accordance with the law and international obligations of the Russian Federation.”

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It added that “it is unacceptable for officials in Washington and the Western media to whip up a stir with the clear intention of giving this case a political coloring.”

Gershkovich was arrested last week in the Russian city of Ekaterinburg on charges of espionage. The journalist, the Wall Street Journal, and the U.S. have all denied the charges and demanded his immediate release.

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