US Ambassador to Russia pays first visit to reporter arrested in Moscow

US Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy said on Monday she had paid her first visit to Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, whom the Moscow government arrested two weeks ago on charges of espionage.

“He is feeling well and is coping. We reiterate our call for Evan’s immediate release,” Tracy said in a Russian-language statement on the messaging app Telegram.

Gershkovich, who was hired by the Wall Street Journal shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine last year, was arrested last month in the Ural city of Yekaterinburg. It is the first time since 1986 that a US reporter has been detained for alleged spying in Russia.

the newspaper rejected the charge, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. The White House called the detention “ridiculous”, and US President Joe Biden called Gershkovich’s detention “completely illegal”.

Tracy did not say how much time she spent with the reporter at the Lefortovo pre-trial detention center in Moscow. The visit took place on the eve of a court hearing on Gershkovich’s appeal against his detention.

In Washington, the White House said it hoped to gain regular consular access to Gershkovich. “It was good to see you today and again we want to make sure we can keep doing that,” said White House national security spokesman John Kirby.

The FSB security service accused Gershkovich of collecting state secrets about Russia’s military-industrial complex. The Kremlin says he was “caught in the act” but has not published any evidence to support that claim.

Last week, the United States designated Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained”, saying the spying allegations were false and the case was politically motivated.

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