Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, was arrested in March. The Russian authorities accuse him of espionage. The American ambassador could visit him on Monday.
On Monday, July 3, the US ambassador to Russia was allowed to visit in prison the American journalist Evan Gershkovich, arrested at the end of March, who, according to her, is “in good health”.
Lynne Tracy went to Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, the US State Department said. This is only their second meeting since the arrest of the journalist during a report in Yekaterinburg (Urals) on March 29.
Russian authorities have repeatedly refused to grant a consular visit to Evan Gershkovich, targeted by allegations of “espionage”, which he denies.
“Ambassador Tracy has advised that Mr. Gershkovich is in good health and remains strong despite the circumstances,” a State Department spokesman said.
Evan Gershkovich, who worked for AFP, is the first foreign journalist to be arrested in Russia for espionage since the fall of the Soviet Union. His arrest comes amid serious diplomatic tensions between the US and Russia caused by the conflict in Ukraine, where Washington is supporting Kiev militarily and economically against Moscow.
The United States and Evan Gershkovich’s employer, the Wall Street Journal, like him, reject the accusations of “espionage” by the Russian authorities. They accuse Moscow of attacking him because of his work as a journalist.
The State Department has indicated that it will continue to push for Evan Gershkovich’s release and will seek regular consular access in the meantime.
Russia said it denied such access in response to the United States’ refusal to issue visas to some Russian journalists in April.
Last week, the head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, expressed concern about this lack of access to Evan Gershkovich and assured that the US is pushing “virtually every day” to remedy it.
“At the same time, we continue to look for ways to bring him home,” as did Paul Whelan, a former Marine Corps petty officer who has been incarcerated for four years, Blinken added. Ambassador Tracy has not seen Whelan since May.
A Moscow court rejected Evan Gershkovich’s request for release on June 22. Lynne Tracy, who attended the hearing, said the US was “extremely disappointed”.
Washington has sharply reduced high-level contacts with Moscow since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, but has made exceptions to arrange two prisoner swaps.
In December, American basketball player Brittney Griner, arrested in Russia on hashish-trafficking charges, was released against Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer held captive in the United States.