Russian’s Federal Security Service (FSB) announced Thursday morning that it had taken a Wall Street Journal journalist, Evan Gershkovich to Russia on charges of espionage. When what they’ve really done is taken another American hostage.
Breaking: Russia’s main security agency said it had detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, a U.S. citizen, for what it described as espionage https://t.co/5mr3h7uroZ
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) March 30, 2023
According to the Washington Post, Gershkovich is a U.S. citizen who worked in the Moscow bureau of the paper. He was accused of “gathering data about the Russian military enterprise.”
Gershkovich was detained Wednesday according to local media. He was being taken to Moscow for a court hearing and the case was being handled by the FSB’s central office, the Kommersant newspaper reported.
The FSB stated that Gershkovich was accused of collecting information about a Russian military organization, but didn’t cite any evidence. The Wall Street Journal strongly denied the claims and demanded Gershkovich’s release.
The FSB stated in a statement that the Russian Federal Security Service had stopped Evan Gershkovich’s illegal activities as he was a correspondent at the Moscow bureau of The Wall Street Journal. Gershkovich was born in 1991 and is suspected of spying on the American government. It was found that Gershkovich collected state secrets about activities at a Russian military-industrial company, and this was at the American request. While trying to obtain classified information, the foreign national was taken into custody in Yekaterinburg.”
The Wall Street Journal released a statement regarding the arrest. It disputed the charges and expressed concern for its writer.
The Wall Street Journal vehemently denied the allegations of the FSB, and sought the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter Evan Gershkovich,” it said in a Thursday statement. We stand with Evan and his loved ones.
It is evident that the Russian government wants to make Gershkovich an example. According to the Post, Russian officials have already confirmed the allegations. This accelerates the case and almost guarantees that he will be sentenced to serious imprisonment in a Russian jail, despite the fact that no one from the FSB or Russian officials has offered any evidence against Gershkovich.
The Kremlin insists that he was indeed caught red-handed.
This is yet another foreign policy disaster for the Biden administration. It comes just a few months after Russia initiated a case against WNBA star Brittany Griner. Russia imprisoned Griner and offered to swap hostages with the United States. We released Viktor Bout, the “Merchant of Death”, and left Paul Whelan in Russian custody.
The Post points out that this is the first time a journalist has been detained since the Cold War. It also comes at a time when tensions between the U.S. & Russia are at their highest level in a long while and when an armed conflict of any kind has never seemed more likely in the post-Cold War period. The Biden administration has been inconsistent in its approach to Russia.
The Russian government was given the opportunity to invade Ukraine, hold a U.S. basketball player captive, laugh at U.S. threats and sanctions, deliberately take out U.S. drones, and then take a journalist hostage.
This requires firmness. The Biden administration has so far not been willing to demonstrate the authoritarian regime under Vladimir Putin. Gershkovich has not been accused of spying. It is more likely that he is guilty of real journalism, which is rare in Russia. The state controls the media.
While some might claim that America is moving towards authoritarianism, it is not true. Russia is authoritarian. We are nowhere near the Russian government. However, Vladimir Putin’s government will jail a journalist just for doing his job. They know that the Biden administration is willing to comply with any demands Putin may make. Gershkovich’s freedom would be at risk if Russia feared the U.S. government.
However, it is impossible to fear a government that is more afraid to hurt the feelings of real dictators and focuses on social issues rather than policies that provide real safety and benefit for all Americans. Putin knows that he can do what he did here because Biden let him do it before.
While we should do all that is possible to bring Gershkovich home, we shouldn’t be in this situation in the first. Joe Biden can take the blame.