McConnell and Schumer call for release of American reporter detained in Russia

Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., left, accompanied by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrive for President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) Jose Luis Magana/AP

McConnell and Schumer call for release of American reporter detained in Russia

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Senate leaders Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released a joint statement calling for the release of a Wall Street Journal reporter who has been detained in Russia, marking a rare moment of bipartisanship for the pair as they denounce the Kremlin for possibly violating international law.

McConnell and Schumer condemned the Russian government for its detainment of reporter Evan Gershkovich, calling for his immediate release and for all charges against him to be dropped. The statement comes after Gershkovich was arrested by Russian authorities in March, the first time a United States journalist has been detained since the Cold War.

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“Since his arrest, Russian authorities have failed to present any credible evidence to justify their fabricated charges,” the pair said. “Let there be no mistake: journalism is not a crime. We demand the baseless, fabricated charges against Mr. Gershkovich be dropped and he be immediately released and reiterate our condemnation of the Russian government’s continued attempts to intimidate, repress, and punish independent journalists and civil society voices.”

The senators accused Russia of having a “long and disturbing history” of arresting U.S. citizens, pointing to the detainment of Paul Whelan in December 2018 on accusations of spying. Whelan has since been sentenced to 16 years in prison, with many U.S. lawmakers calling on Russia for his release.

McConnell and Schumer denounced both arrests, demanding that the Kremlin release both Whelan and Gershkovich.

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Gershkovich was arrested on March 29 during a reporting trip to the city of Yekaterinburg under suspicion of espionage despite his being accredited by the Russian Foreign Ministry to work as a journalist in the country. Gershkovich is now being held in prison as he awaits trial and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years if found guilty.

The Wall Street Journal has repeatedly denied the charges levied against Gershkovich. President Joe Biden and several senior members of his administration have also called for his release.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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