Geneva Council Condemns the Arbitrary Detention of Journalist Evan Gershkovich by Russian Authorities


Geneva Council strongly denounces the arbitrary detention of journalist Evan Gershkovich by the Russian Federal Security Service. The journalist has been held in pre-trial detention at Lefortovo prison in Moscow for over 100 days since his arrest on 29 March 2023.

In a statement issued today, Geneva Council expressed grave concern over the situation and called for the immediate release of Mr. Gershkovich. The organization’s experts have closely monitored the case and have observed the severe clamp down on freedom of opinion, expression, and independent journalism in Russia since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine 17 months ago.

Evan Gershkovich, a 31-year-old journalist and United States citizen, has an illustrious career, having previously worked for various media outlets before moving to Russia in 2017 as a Russia-accredited journalist. Over the past year, he has served as a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, courageously reporting on critical issues such as mobilization, sanctions and their socio-economic impact, Russia’s growing isolation, and the suppression of anti-war activism by the government.

On a reporting trip to Yekaterinburg, Mr. Gershkovich was shockingly arrested on charges of espionage, accused of allegedly collecting information considered “state secrets” under the instructions of the United States. However, the Russian authorities have failed to present any credible evidence to support these serious allegations, leading to deep concerns about the fairness and transparency of the legal proceedings.

The arbitrary arrest and indictment of Mr. Gershkovich, which could lead to a 20-year sentence in a penal colony, is a distressing indicator of the escalating crackdown on journalists and the shrinking space for freedom of the press in Russia. Geneva Council vehemently opposes this alarming trend and highlights the dangers posed by the increased use of espionage and treason provisions within the Russian Federation Criminal Code.

According to available data, there has been a notable rise in individuals facing similar charges, with 16 convictions reported in 2022 and at least 24 criminal proceedings initiated the same year. Shockingly, by the end of June 2023, at least 43 people had already been charged with treason in Russia, underscoring the urgency of addressing this pressing human rights issue.

Despite appeals from the US Ambassador to Russia for consular access, Mr. Gershkovich has only been granted two visits while in detention. The Russian authorities have cited the “US denial of visas to Russian journalists” as their reason for refusing further access. Geneva Council condemns this lack of transparency and calls for full consular access and protection of Mr. Gershkovich’s rights.

As an independent news organization, Geneva Council stands firmly in support of journalists’ rights and press freedom. We call on the international community to unite in denouncing this egregious violation of human rights and press freedom, demanding the immediate release of Evan Gershkovich, and urging the Russian authorities to uphold their commitment to protecting journalists’ rights and promoting a free and independent media.

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