Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich who was detained by Russian authorities on Thursday on accusations that he was an American spy, knew the dangers of working in the country.

In what reads as a now eery prediction of his own fate, Gershkovich tweeted last July how ‘Reporting on Russia is now also a regular practice of watching people you know get locked away for years.’

In the days since his capture, the WSJ has denied that Gershkovich was spying for the U.S.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that Gershkovich had been ‘caught red-handed’ but offered no evidence to back up their assertion.

Gershkovich pleaded ‘not guilty’ as a court remanded him in pre-trial detention for two months.

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was detained in Russia on allegations of being an American spy, knew of the risks of working in the country

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was detained in Russia on allegations of being an American spy, knew of the risks of working in the country

Gershkovich tweeted in July how 'Reporting on Russia is now also a regular practice of watching people you know get locked away for years.'

Gershkovich tweeted in July how ‘Reporting on Russia is now also a regular practice of watching people you know get locked away for years.’

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is escorted by officers from the Lefortovsky court to a van

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is escorted by officers from the Lefortovsky court to a van

Wearing a yellow-colored hooded jacket, the journalist was seen being taken from the back of a blacked-out Russian police vehicle before being walked into the court on Thursday. 

He was later seen piling back into the law enforcement van, keeping his head down.

The court ruled that he should be held in pre-trial custody, with his next hearing due on May 29.

It is the most serious public move against a foreign journalist since Russia invaded Ukraine. 

It’s also the first time a U.S. correspondent has been detained on spying accusations since the Cold War. 

Gershkovich’s arrest comes a year after the Russian government, shortly after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, imposed harsh new restrictions on journalists that threatened punishment for reports that went against the Kremlin’s version of events – even forbidding the use of the word ‘war’ in their reports to describe the conflict.

There was concern for Gershkovich when he failed to make contact with his editorial office

There was concern for Gershkovich when he failed to make contact with his editorial office

Moscow has been accused in the past of arresting foreigners - especially Americans - to use in barter exchanges for Russians detained in the US

Moscow has been accused in the past of arresting foreigners – especially Americans – to use in barter exchanges for Russians detained in the US

Dmitry Kolezev, an independent Russian Journalist, told NBC news that Gershkovich understood the risks 'very well' before working on the assignment

Dmitry Kolezev, an independent Russian Journalist, told NBC news that Gershkovich understood the risks ‘very well’ before working on the assignment 

Yekaterinburg, where Gershkovich was detained, is a city in the Sverdlovsk oblast region, in west-central Russia

Yekaterinburg, where Gershkovich was detained, is a city in the Sverdlovsk oblast region, in west-central Russia

Some news organizations pulled their journalists out as a result. Some returned later when it became clear the restrictions were aimed mostly at Russians. Hundreds of Russian journalists have since left the country,

Gershkovh ended up working as reporter based in the Russian capital for The Moscow Times, an English-language news website, until 2020. 

‘He loved Russia and he wanted to report from here,’ said Pjotr Sauer to WSJ, a Moscow Times colleague who now works at The Guardian. 

He then took up a position as a reporter at the AFP wire service in Moscow before joining the Wall Street Journal in January 2022 as their reporter in the Russian capital.

Just one month later, Russia invaded Ukraine and Gershkovich was dispatched to the Belarus-Ukraine border. 

He was the only American reporter able to see wounded Russian forces being brought back home. 

The Bukowski Grill, where Gershkovich is reported to have been taken away by plain-clothed officers

The Bukowski Grill, where Gershkovich is reported to have been taken away by plain-clothed officers

Gershkovich has lived in Moscow for six years, working as a journalist. He is a US citizen born to parents from the Soviet Union

Gershkovich has lived in Moscow for six years, working as a journalist. He is a US citizen born to parents from the Soviet Union

Gershkovich at a restaurant. 'While trying to obtain secret information, an American was detained in Yekaterinburg,' said the FSB which provided no evidence for its accusations

Gershkovich at a restaurant. ‘While trying to obtain secret information, an American was detained in Yekaterinburg,’ said the FSB which provided no evidence for its accusations

Russia has seldom made allegations of espionage against Western correspondents accredited to the country.

However, many accredited correspondents from Western media outlets left the country when the war started 13 months ago amid concerns it was unsafe to remain.

Gershkovich, 31, was working in Yekaterinburg investigating the Wagner mercenary group when he was arrested.

His final dispatch before his arrest was about Russia’s economy, and how ‘investment is down, labor is scarce, and the budget is squeezed.’  

It was not uncommon for Gershkovich to be followed by  Russian security officers, some of whom would record his movements with a camera and pressure sources not to not talk to him. He would assume his phone was monitored. 

On one trip, he knew that he had been followed and filmed by unidentified men. 

He also had a GPS app on his phone that allowed his colleagues back at base to track his movements for his own safety. 

Evan Gershkovich is seen in a posting from February 2021 at a Moscow restaurant celebrating the new COVID vaccine in Russia

Evan Gershkovich is seen in a posting from February 2021 at a Moscow restaurant celebrating the new COVID vaccine in Russia

Some of the last retweets made by Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich at the very end of March 2023 before he was seized by Russia for allegedly being a sp

Some of the last retweets made by Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich at the very end of March 2023 before he was seized by Russia for allegedly being a spy

Some of the last retweets made by Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich at the very end of March 2023 before he was seized by Russia for allegedly being a spy

Reports suggest Gershkovich was apprehended at the Bukowski Grill restaurant and led by plain-clothed officers to a waiting vehicle with a sweater pulled over his head.

Russian reports also suggest he had gone to Yekaterinburg to write about the attitude of people to the war unleashed by Putin in Ukraine, and the recruitment of locals for the Wagner private military company.

Evan Gershkovich, 31, The Wall Street Journal's correspondent in Russia

Evan Gershkovich, 31, The Wall Street Journal’s correspondent in Russia

There was concern for Gershkovich when he failed to make contact with his editorial office. 

Local sources said Gershkovich had made a trip to the city several weeks ago and had returned this past week. 

Colleagues of Gershkovich claim that he was aware that he might be followed by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) because of the sensitive subject matter.

Dmitry Kolezev, an independent Russian Journalist, told NBC News that he understood the risks ‘very well’ before working on the assignment.

It marks the first time since the Cold War that a US correspondent has been detained on spying charges. Evan Gershkovich is pictured second from right

It marks the first time since the Cold War that a US correspondent has been detained on spying charges. Evan Gershkovich is pictured second from right

Gershkovh ended up working as reporter based in the Russian capital for The Moscow Times, an English-language news website, until 2020

Gershkovh ended up working as reporter based in the Russian capital for The Moscow Times, an English-language news website, until 2020

Gershkovich is pictured on assignment preparing to interview a dignitary

Gershkovich is pictured on assignment preparing to interview a dignitary 

Kolezev said: ‘He sounded pretty sure that they wouldn’t touch him because he was an American journalist working for a famous newspaper.

‘He understood this well, but he was sure that since he was not doing anything illegal, everything would be limited to ordinary surveillance and, perhaps, some kind of intimidation. It turned out much worse.’

He insisted: ‘Evan is a very brave guy, a good journalist, not a spy at all.’

The FSB said that Gershkovich ‘was acting on the US orders to collect information about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military industrial complex that constitutes a state secret’.

He was ‘acting on instructions’ from the US government, it was alleged.

‘While trying to obtain secret information, an American was detained in Yekaterinburg,’ said the FSB which provided no evidence for its accusations.

The FSB is a domestic security and counterintelligence agency that is the top successor agency to the Soviet era KGB.

Putin's spokesman did not elaborate on what he believed Gershkovich was allegedly caught 'red-handed' for.

Putin’s spokesman did not elaborate on what he believed Gershkovich was allegedly caught ‘red-handed’ for.

Putin’s spokesman did not elaborate on what he believed Gershkovich was allegedly caught ‘red-handed’ for.

Gershkovich, who was based in the UK, would travel to Russia for two to three weeks at a time on assignments.

But his confidence that he would be left alone was misplaced, and he was arrested in Yekaterinburg on Tuesday on suspicion of ‘espionage in the interests of the American government.’

In a statement the FSB accused him of collecting ‘information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex.’

His arrest comes at a moment of bitter tensions between the West and Moscow over its war in Ukraine and as the Kremlin intensifies a crackdown on opposition activists, independent journalists and civil society groups. 

The sweeping campaign of repression is unprecedented since the Soviet era. 

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken released a statement denouncing Gershkovich's capture

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken released a statement denouncing Gershkovich’s capture

Who is Evan Gershkovich? American-educated journalist who has covered Russia for six years

Evan Gershkovich has lived in Moscow for six years, working as a journalist.

He is a US citizen born to parents from the Soviet Union.  

Gershkovich studied Philosophy and English at Bowdoin College in Maine from 2010 to 2014.

He then started his journalism career at the New York Times where he worked as a news assistant for nearly two years.

He moved to Moscow, Russia, where he worked as a reporter for The Moscow Times until October 2020.

Gershkovich then took up a position as a reporter at the world-renown AFP wire, where he ‘covering Russia, Ukraine and the former Soviet Union.’

In January 2022, he joined the Wall Street Journal as their reporter in Moscow, Russia. 



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