US still hasn’t gotten consular access to American reporter in Russian jail

Russia Reporter Arrested
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre avoided definitely saying whether Evan Gershkovich, the <i>Wall Street Reporter</i> currently being detained in Russia, had ever worked for the U.S. government. (AP)

US still hasn’t gotten consular access to American reporter in Russian jail

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Attempts from the United States to gain consular access to Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter detained by Russian authorities last week on espionage charges, remain unsuccessful as of late Thursday.

National Security Council coordinator John Kirby told reporters that getting access to Gershkovich is a topic U.S. officials want to discuss with Russian authorities.

US CONDEMNS RUSSIA’S ARREST OF WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORTER

“We still haven’t been able to get consular access. And that’s a — that’s an issue that we continually bring up through our — our embassy in Moscow with the Russians,” he said. “I wish I had a good answer for that, because it’s inexcusable. We need to get consular access to Evan.”

The ZKS law firm in Moscow is representing Gershkovich, and his lawyers were able to meet with him on Tuesday. The journalist is being held until May 29 in a pretrial detention center at the Lefortovo prison.

The Moscow City Court is set to hear Gershkovich’s appeal on April 18, a court press service told Russian news agencies, according to the Washington Post. He was arrested last week in Yekaterinburg, Russia, and authorities accused him of spying on behalf of the United States. Gershkovich faces a 20-year sentence if convicted.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that he believes Gershkovich is being wrongfully detained, a designation the State Department assesses based on law determining the case’s jurisdiction. However, he was not saying that was the department’s determination.

“In Evan’s case, we are working through the determination on wrongful detention, and there’s a process to do that, and it’s something we’re working through pretty deliberately, but expeditiously as well,” he said in Belgium. “I’ll let that process play out. In my own mind, there’s no doubt he’s being wrongfully detained by Russia, which is exactly what I said to Foreign Minister Lavrov when I spoke with him over the weekend.”

Wrongful detention cases are handled by the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, which Roger Carstens leads.

Senate leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) released a joint statement calling for Russia to release Gershkovich.

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“Mr. Gershkovich was accredited by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work as a journalist in Russia. Since his arrest, Russian authorities have failed to present any credible evidence to justify their fabricated charges,” the pair wrote. “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.”

Roughly 200 Russian journalists and activities signed on to a letter earlier this week also demanding his release while expressing skepticism regarding the espionage charges levied against him.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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