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The American ambassador visits the detained journalist

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  • By Antoinette Radford
  • BBC News


Ivan Gershkovich has been in a Russian prison since the end of March

The US ambassador to Russia said that the American journalist, who was detained by Russia on charges of espionage, was “in good health”.

Lynn Tracy said she visited Ivan Gershkovitch, 31, on Monday, the first time US officials have been allowed to visit him.

Gershkovitch was arrested on March 29 while working for the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and charged with espionage.

He denies any wrongdoing and will appeal the indictment on Tuesday.

US consular officials were initially denied access to Mr. Gershkovitch, and Tracy said Monday’s visit was “the first time we’ve been allowed contact with him since his wrongful detention there” more than two weeks ago.

“He is healthy and staying strong,” she added.

Mr. Gershkovitch could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of espionage. Russia says he was trying to obtain classified US government defense information.

His arrest is the first time since Soviet times that Moscow has accused an American journalist of espionage.

And while US officials were initially denied access to Mr. Gershkovitch, WSJ lawyers were able to see him.

His employer said he was “doing everything he can to support Evan and his family.”

The Wall Street Journal said he first lost contact with editors on March 28 while working in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg.

Reporters Without Borders, which monitors press freedom, said it was covering the Russian mercenary group Wagner, which was involved in some of the fiercest battles in eastern Ukraine for the city.

Several politicians across the United States have also called for Mr Gershkovitch’s immediate release, including US President Joe Biden, who said on Tuesday his imprisonment was “completely illegal”.

We demand that the false and fabricated charges against Mr. Gershkovitch be dropped and that he be immediately released. »

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