President Biden on Tuesday said that the Russians detaining Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is “totally illegal,” following the State Department designating him as “wrongfully detained.”
“We’re making it real clear that it’s totally illegal what’s happening,” Biden said while leaving for a trip to Ireland.
The president added that declaring him as wrongfully detained “changes the dynamic.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken made the wrongfully detained designation on Monday, which officially transfers responsibility of the case to the State Department’s Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs.
Biden also said that he tried to call Gershkovich’s family on Monday and missed them, but will try them again while aboard Air Force One.
Gershkovich was arrested by the Russian Federal Security Service, the main successor agency to the Soviet-era KGB, in Yekaterinburg on March 30. Russian authorities claim he was allegedly trying to gain access to classified information.
The Biden administration has been working since then to gain access to Gershkovich and to get more information about the arrest.
Both the Biden administration and the Wall Street Journal have rejected the claims that Gershkovich was spying.
Source: The Hill