First American Journalist Since Soviet Era to Be Arrested for Spying in Russia

Evan Gershkovich
KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images, DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images, Cate Gillon/Getty Images

First American Journalist Since Soviet Era to Be Arrested for Spying in Russia

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was arrested by Russia’s Federal Security Service (fsb) for espionage charges on March 29. The fsb alleged that Gershkovich used his journalist visa as a cover to spy on a Russian defense factory. The Wall Street Journal denied Russia’s allegations and has demanded that Gershkovich be released.

[Gershkovich] was acting on instructions from the American side to collect information about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex that constitutes a state secret.

Gershkovich is the first American reporter to be arrested by Russia for espionage since the Cold War.

Soviet detention: During a hearing on March 30, a Moscow court ruled that Gershkovich was to be held in Russia’s Lefortovo prison, a pretrial detention facility dating back to the Stalin era for “enemies of the people.”

Lawyers say his case could take up to 18 months to settle, all the while Gershkovich will most likely remain behind bars in total isolation.

No calls, no visitation, no newspapers—nothing. At best, [prisoners in Lefortove] will receive letters—and even then, most likely with a delay of a month or two. It’s one of [Russia’s] tools of suppression.
—Yevgeny Smirnov, Russian espionage defense lawyer

Prisoner swap? Ivan Pavlov, a prominent Russian defense attorney, said that Gershkovich’s arrest is probably an effort by Russia to prepare for a future prisoner exchange. “That unwritten rule not to touch accredited foreign journalists has stopped working,” Pavlov said.

Russian officials say it is too early to consider a prisoner exchange.

Russia ‘not safe’: The Biden administration condemned Russia’s arrest of Gershkovich but refrained from calling it aggression or an act of retaliation.

Joe Biden said, “Let him go.” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, “We’ve been very clear about Americans not going to Russia. It is not safe.”

Stalin-like leader: “No leader in Russia has equaled [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s diabolical evil since Joseph Stalin,” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry writes in his booklet The Prophesied ‘Prince of Russia.’ Putin has patterned much of his current administration after how the totalitarian Stalin managed the Soviet Union. Being a former kgb operative himself, Putin allows Russia’s security service to function much like it did in Soviet times.

This world has a lot of authoritarian rulers. But Vladimir Putin is one we need to keep a particularly close eye on. His track record, his nationality and his ideology show that he is fulfilling a linchpin Bible prophecy.
—Gerald Flurry

Learn more: Read “Vladimir Putin—‘Evil on the Level of Joseph Stalin’” and our Trends article “Russia Frightens Europe—and Fulfills Bible Prophecy.”