New Delhi: Russia’s top security agency said on Thursday a journalist for the Wall Street Journal newspaper, Evan Gershkovich, has been detained on suspicion of espionage, reported Associated Press.
The Federal Security Service (FSB) said that Gershkovich had been arrested in the Ural Mountains city of Ekaterinburg while allegedly trying to obtain classified information.
In a statement quoted by AP, the FSB said it had “stopped the illegal activities of U.S. citizen Gershkovich Evan, born in 1991, a correspondent of the Moscow bureau of the American newspaper The Wall Street Journal, accredited at the Russian Foreign Ministry, who is suspected of spying in the interests of the American government”.
The statement said Gershkovich “was collecting classified information about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military industrial complex”.
According to AP, Gershkovich could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of espionage.
Gershkovich is the first reporter for a US news outlet to be arrested on espionage charges in Russia since the cold war. His arrest comes amid bitter tensions between Moscow and Washington DC over the fighting in Ukraine.
Gershkovich covers Russia and Ukraine as a correspondent in the Wall Street Journal’s Moscow bureau, as per AP.
His latest report from Moscow, published earlier this week, focused on the Russian economy’s slowdown amid western sanctions imposed when Russian troops entered Ukraine last year.
According to the New York Times, Gershkovich has worked for the Journal in Moscow since January 2022 and previously reported in Russia for Agence France-Presse and The Moscow Times. Before that, he was a news assistant for The New York Times, based in New York.
(With inputs from agencies)