The Russian top diplomat also told his US counterparts that it is inadmissible to fan hysteria around the journalist’s arrest
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that it is up to court to decide about the future of The Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich who was detained on espionage charges in Russia, the Russian foreign ministry said on Sunday after their telephone conversation.
“In light of the established evidence of the US national’s illegal activities, his future will be determined by court. The American embassy in Moscow was duly notified about his detention,” the ministry said.
“In the context of the discussion of the issue of the detention of US national Gershkovich in Russia on suspicion of espionage, which was raised by the Secretary of State, Blinken’s attention was drawn to the necessity to respect the Russian authorities’ decision made in conformity with law and Russia’s international commitments,” the ministry said. “Lavrov stressed that Gershkovich had been detained red-handed when he was receiving secret data and was collecting data constituting a state secret acting under the guise of a journalist’s status.”
The Russian top diplomat also told his US counterparts that it is inadmissible to fan hysteria around the journalist’s arrest. “It was stressed that it is inadmissible for Washington officials and Western mass media to stir up hysteria with an obvious aim of giving a political overtone to this case,” the ministry said.
According to the ministry, Lavrov and Blinken also touched upon several other bilateral matters.
The call was initiated by the US side.
Lavrov and Blinken had a ten-minute meeting on the sidelines of the Group of Twenty meeting in New Delhi. According to the Russian minister, the meeting was quite constructive. The topics included the situation in the sphere of strategic stability in the context of the New START treaty and Ukraine.
The Public Relations Center of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said earlier that Evan Gershkovich, “acting at the behest of the American side, collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of an enterprise within Russia’s military-industrial complex.” The reporter was detained in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg. The FSB investigators opened a criminal case against the US citizen under Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code (“Espionage”). On March 30, Moscow’s Lefortovo district court sanctioned Gershkovich’s arrest until May 29.
In light of this, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published a statement expressing deep concern for the safety of Gershkovich. According to the WSJ, Gershkovich covers Russia from his post at the newspaper’s Moscow bureau.