RSF urges U.S. State Department to designate Alsu Kurmasheva as “wrongfully detained”

Prague-based journalist for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Alsu Kurmasheva has been detained in Russia since October 18th. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges Secretary of State Antony Blinken to formally declare jailed Russian-American journalist Kurmasheva as “wrongfully detained” and to marshal the full resources of the U.S. government to support her family and secure her release.


Alsu Kurmasheva is a dual U.S.-Russian citizen who was detained in Kazan on October 18th for failing to register as a foreign agent. In reality, Kurmasheva was targeted for being a journalist and is the latest casualty in the Kremlin’s war against independent journalism. Kurmasheva also fits a developing pattern of Moscow hostage taking and punishment of foreign media, having already eradicated the independent domestic media.

RSF urges the U.S. Department of State to designate Kurmasheva as “wrongfully detained”. RSF joined a civil society letter to Secretary Blinken making this case. RSF also advised members of Congress on their own letter to Secretary Blinken requesting the designation. In contrast to its handling of Kurmasheva’s case, the State Department had designated Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich as wrongfully detained within two weeks of his arrest in March 2023.

“Alsu Kurmasheva is a victim of Moscow’s war on journalism and its geopolitical disputes with the United States. The Kremlin should free her and drop these ludicrous charges immediately, but until that day comes, the State Department must designate her as wrongfully detained. As an American journalist targeted for her work, Kurmasheva deserves nothing less than the full weight of her government working to secure her release.

Clayton Weimers
Executive Director, RSF USA

Kurmasheva and Gershkovich are the first American journalists to be arrested in Russia since the end of the Cold War. The State Department had declared Gershkovich as wrongfully detained with record speed, leading to optimism within the press freedom community that the Biden Administration would give greater priority to securing the releases of jailed American journalists. That has, however, not been the case for Kurmasheva, and the U.S. government has not provided a clear explanation of why.

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