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US ambassador visits detained WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich in Russia, urges release

The United States’ ambassador to Russia has visited detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, the diplomat announced Monday, the first time a U.S. official has been able to access him since his arrest last month.

“He is in good health and remains strong. We reiterate our call for his immediate release,” Ambassador Lynne Tracy said, according to a tweet shared by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

Tracy said she was “permitted access” to the journalist at Moscow’s Lefortovo Prison on Monday.

The White House said when Gershkovich was arrested that it is focused on gaining access to him and getting more information about his arrest. 

Gershkovich was arrested by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor agency to the Soviet-era KGB, in Yekaterinburg on March 30 on charges of espionage. The Journal and the White House have rejected allegations that Gershkovich was engaged in espionage.

A top Russian diplomat on Thursday said they may be willing to discuss a prisoner swap for Gershkovich, but only after a Russian court issues a verdict on the allegation that he was working as a spy.

The State Department has officially designated him as “wrongfully detained” by Russia. The designation, made by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, follows a process conducted within the State Department and officially transfers responsibility of the case to the department’s Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs.

Blinken spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov after Gershkovich was taken into custody and called on Moscow to immediately release him.

Source: The Hill

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