David Satter, a former Moscow-based journalist who has since been expelled, is ringing alarm bells over the detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich who is being charged with espionage by the Russian regime.
(Video Credit: Fox News)
Gershkovich is American born, the son of Russian immigrants. He has covered the country’s politics for the last six years.
Lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle in the US call the allegations by Russia “baseless.” The fact remains that the reporter has very few rights now that he has been thrown in a Russian hellhole prison.
“The FSB investigation charged Gershkovich with espionage in the interests of his country. He categorically denied all accusations and stated that he was engaged in journalistic activities in Russia,” an agency representative said, according to state news agency TASS.
He will be able to appeal the charges on April 18 according to reports. Gershkovich’s arrest marks the first time an American journalist has been detained on accusations by Moscow of spying since the Cold War. It is an escalation in the deteriorating relations between the US and Russia.
(Video Credit: NewsNation)
The journalist has not been allowed to speak with the US consulate in Russia. He can’t reveal the charges levied against him either and neither can his attorneys, according to Satter who sat down for an interview with “The Story” on Friday.
“He’s not being given due process. And in fact, under the law in Russia, they don’t have to – he’s forbidden from revealing the details of the accusation against him,” Satter explained.
He also noted that Gershkovich’s attorneys were intentionally vague when speaking publicly following a meeting with their client, probably out of fear of repercussions from the Russians.
A “trusted, dedicated reporter” from the Wall Street Journal could face up to twenty years in a Russian prison for spying. Our report from Moscow on the arrest of Evan Gershkovich on espionage charges. Producer @BBCWillVernon @BBCNews pic.twitter.com/uRJNm0sa5I
— Steve Rosenberg (@BBCSteveR) March 30, 2023
“Under the espionage statute, you can’t [say what your client is charged with] – you can’t discuss any of those things. And that applies to everyone, including the defendant himself,” Satter pointed out.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby commented on Friday that Russia not allowing Gershkovich access to the consulate was “inexcusable.”
America is left with few options now that the Biden administration traded the Russian “Merchant of Death” arms dealer Viktor Bout for WNBA player Brittney Griner.
“It’s going to be a question of what kind of pressure can be brought to bear on the Russian authorities because the situation now for Evan is pretty, pretty grim. He doesn’t have a lot of means to defend himself,” Satter commented.
WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich has been wrongfully taken prisoner & should be released by Russia immediately He's hostage just because he's American Arresting reporters flashback 2 Soviet Union tactics #IStandWithEvan
— Chuck Grassley (@ChuckGrassley) April 7, 2023
WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich is being wrongfully detained in Russia.
Evan was arrested for doing his job as a journalist.
Russia must immediately release Evan, and the United States should pursue additional sanctions targeted at every single Russian official involved.
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) April 7, 2023
Satter noted that a change in on-the-ground circumstances in Ukraine could create “a whole new set of facts.” He claims it could be the best way to get the Russians to release Gershkovich.
“I don’t think that the idea in arresting him was to have a trade. I think it was to intimidate the Russian people and intimidate the foreign press,” Satter asserted.
According to Axios, “In March 2022, Russia enacted a punitive ‘fake news’ law that threatened to imprison journalists and individuals who spread information about the war in Ukraine that Russia deemed to be false.”
Many media outlets temporarily suspended their activities in the country after that announcement.
The Wall Street Journal issued a new statement on Friday condemning Gershkovich’s detention in Russia.
“Journalism is not a crime and Evan should not be jailed for his profession — he should be honored for it.”
In today’s print edition of The Wall Street Journal, @PressClubDC honors @WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich with the John Aubuchon award. #IStandWithEvan pic.twitter.com/M7C8XkTAh6
— WSJ Communications (@WSJPR) April 7, 2023
“We’ve seen media reports indicating Evan has been charged,” the statement noted. “As we’ve said from the beginning, these charges are categorically false and unjustified and we continue to demand Evan’s immediate release.”
“We consider this an unjust detention and call on the State Department to designate his detention in that manner at once,” National Press Club President Eileen O’Reilly declared in a statement Thursday, also calling for Gershkovich’s immediate release.
Trials for espionage in Russia can take months to conduct and are often held in secret, according to the Wall Street Journal. Acquittals are extremely rare.
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