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US journalist accused of spying by Russia, denies charges

7 April: Russian authorities have formally charged US journalist Evan Gershkovich with espionage, according to Russian media reports on Friday. Gershkovich, who works for the Wall Street Journal, rejected the allegations and said he was only doing his job as a reporter in Russia.

Gershkovich’s arrest has sparked outrage from media organizations, human rights groups and US officials, who have called for his immediate release.

The case comes amid rising tensions between Moscow and Washington over the Ukraine crisis. “Gershkovich was charged with spying for his country by FSB investigators,” a law enforcement source told state-run agency TASS.

“He firmly denied all accusations and claimed that he was engaged in journalistic activities in Russia,” TASS reported. Gershkovich’s arrest is seen as part of a wider crackdown on the media by Moscow. His employer, one of the most respected newspapers in the US, “strongly denies the allegations” against its “reliable and dedicated reporter.”

The case has been classified as secret, limiting the amount of information available. His arrest also coincides with a deterioration of relations between Moscow and Washington over the Ukraine situation. Washington has long accused Moscow of arbitrarily arresting Americans in order to secure the release of detained Russians.

US President Joe Biden demanded Gershkovich’s release on Friday, while the White House called the accusations against him “absurd.” Russia said on Thursday that it was “useless” to try to pressure Moscow over the case.

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