38.1 C
Delhi
Friday, June 21, 2024

US journalist arrested in Russia over spying charges, US condemns

31 March: The US government has strongly denounced Russia’s arrest of an American journalist who works for The Wall Street Journal and demanded consular access to him.

US officials said they were in contact with the journalist’s family, the newspaper and the State Department, which had reached out to Russia.

“We reject the Russian government’s targeting of American citizens. We strongly condemn Mr. Gershkovich’s arrest,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. The US government has strongly denounced Russia’s arrest of an American journalist who works for The Wall Street Journal and demanded consular access to him.

US officials said they were in contact with the journalist’s family, the newspaper and the State Department, which had reached out to Russia.

“We reject the Russian government’s targeting of American citizens. We strongly condemn Mr. Gershkovich’s arrest,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

“I want to emphasize that Americans should heed the US government’s warning to not travel to Russia. US citizens residing or traveling in Russia should depart immediately.”

Jean-Pierre later told reporters that the accusation of espionage against the journalist was “absurd”. She said US President Joe Biden had been briefed on the arrest.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken linked the arrest to the crackdown on media in Russia, which has seen its relations with Washington deteriorate since the invasion of Ukraine.

According to reports, Gershkovich is the first journalist from another country to be arrested for allegedly spying in Russia after the Soviet Union collapsed. He was born to Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Union, as per the New York Post.

John Kirby, the spokesperson for national security at the White House, said he realized that journalists have to take risks and do it knowingly. “We appreciate that, but it doesn’t alter our serious worry about the Americans” who are still in Russia, Kirby said to reporters. “I want to emphasize strongly that Americans should pay attention to the US government’s warning to not go to Russia. US citizens who live or travel in Russia should leave right away.”

In response to the claim that the journalist was spying, Jean-Pierre told reporters later, “The accusation of espionage is absurd.” Several other US citizens are in prison including Paul Whelan, an ex-Marine, who was detained in 2018 and given a 16-year sentence for espionage charges that he rejects.

“This is not a new strategy for Mr. Putin and for Russian officials to hold foreigners and especially Americans,” Kirby said. “It’s also not new for Mr. Putin to retaliate against a free and independent press,” he said. Whelan’s brother expressed sadness over Gershkovich’s arrest and urged the Biden administration to prioritize freeing detained Americans.

“Whatever it takes, I hope the US government acts quickly and firmly so that Paul and Mr. Gershkovich can return to their families and loved ones soon,” David Whelan said in a statement. Russia and the United States, despite high tensions, have done recent prisoner exchanges including one that resulted in the release of US basketball star Brittney Griner.”

Most Popular Articles