Evan Gershkovich trial moves forward despite lack of evidence supporting Russian espionage charges

Russian authorities are finally moving forward with Evan Gershkovich’s trial on espionage charges, after arbitrarily detaining the Wall Street Journal reporter for 15 months. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) decries this bogus proceeding, which is a ploy to hold an American journalist hostage in exchange for securing a Russian prisoner in a swap.

American journalist Evan Gershkovich has been detained in Russia since March 29, 2023, when he was arrested on charges of espionage. Now after 15 months in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, Evan is set to stand trial on June 26. His extended detention period and ensuing trial are clearly devices for the Russian government to expedite a hostage exchange with the United States. 

“Apparently not satisfied with destroying the Russian free press, Putin turned his sights on American journalists like Evan Gershkovich and Alsu Kurmasheva. There’s no evidence to support Russia’s claim that Evan is anything but a journalist. Instead, all the evidence points to the Kremlin holding him as fodder for a future prisoner swap. RSF calls on Russia to drop these charges and for President Biden to do everything in his power to secure Gershkovich’s safe return to the U.S.

Clayton Weimers
Executive Director, RSF USA

Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that he is open to a prisoner exchange in an interview with Tucker Carlson published February 8, 2024, but only if the proposed deal is mutually beneficial. On June 13, President Joe Biden said he was "serious" about securing Gershkovich’s release and that the negotiations were already underway. Former President Trump has also stated that he would use his relationship with President Putin to guarantee Gershkovich’s freedom, if elected. The U.S. Senate likewise passed a resolution calling for the journalist’s release earlier this month. 

Gershkovich’s arrest has been part of a wider crackdown on press freedom in Russia as independent domestic media are forced into self-censorship or exile. Targeting the international press is the next step in President Putin’s plan to achieve absolute control over Russia’s information space. 

Russia is ranked 162 out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2024 World Press Freedom Index.

162/ 180
Score : 29.86
Published on