We partner organisations of the Council of Europe’s Safety of Journalists Platform, a Europe-wide system of public alerts to flag and remedy serious threats to media freedom, call on the Russian authorities to release journalist Evan Gershkovich immediately and to drop all charges against him.
Evan Gershkovich, a US national, was engaged in legitimate journalistic activities for The Wall Street Journal when he was arrested on 30 March in Yekaterinburg. Gershkovich has reported from Russia for many years and has repeatedly received official accreditation from the Russian Foreign Ministry. He was detained by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and accused of spying which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in jail. Evan Gershkovich has declared his innocence and his lawyers have appealed against his detention. The Wall Street Journal has condemned his arrest as an outrage and an affront to a free press.
The arrest and detention of Evan Gershkovich is reminiscent of practices of hostage-taking from the Soviet era and is wholly contrary to the Russian Federation’s obligations and commitments under international law and as a participating state of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). It is the first detention of a US journalist in Russia on spying charges since the end of the Cold War.
Journalists must be able to carry out their work without fear of reprisals or persecution. Journalism is a fundamental right and we call on the Russian government to respect it. As international journalists’ organisations and NGOs defending media freedom and fundamental civil and political rights we condemn the arbitrary and unjustified actions taken against Evan Gershkovich and express our full solidarity with him and his family.