US Secretary of State: The detention of the American journalist in Russia is illegal | outside

The US State Department stated that Russia did not allow US consular staff access to journalist Ivan Gershkovich, who was arrested late last month in the Wall Street Journal. According to the Americans, Russia is acting in violation of international law.

Moscow formally notified Washington over the weekend of the detention of Gershkovich, who has been held since March 29 on espionage charges. “At the moment, refusal of entry is a breach of Russia’s obligations under our Consular Agreement,” a ministry spokesperson said.

The United States also officially determined on Monday that Russia had “mistakenly” arrested Gershkovitch. So the US is pressing for his immediate release. “Journalism is not a crime. We condemn the Kremlin’s continued suppression of independent voices in Russia,” said the State Department spokesman.

US President Joe Biden called for Gershkovitch’s release on Friday after reporters asked him about the case. The description of “illegal imprisonment” by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, which had been expected for several days, triggered a series of actions within the US administration. For example, authorities can now share information with a journalist’s family.

Gershkovich, who works as a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal in Moscow, was recently arrested in Yekaterinburg. He risks 20 years in prison because, according to the Russians, he was going to spy for the United States. Washington says American Paul Whelan should be freed. Whelan was convicted of espionage in 2018.

American journalist Ivan Gershkovitch in archive footage. © AFP

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Denton Watson

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