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Russia Arrests WSJ Reporter for Spying 03/30 06:15


   (AP) -- Russia's top security agency arrested an American reporter for the 
Wall Street Journal on espionage charges, the first time a U.S. correspondent 
was put behind bars on spying accusations since the Cold War. The newspaper 
denied the allegations against Evan Gershkovich.

   The Federal Security Service said Thursday that Gershkovich was detained in 
the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg while allegedly trying to obtain 
classified information.

   The FSB, which is the top successor agency to the Soviet-era KGB, alleged 
that Gershkovich "was acting on the U.S. orders to collect information about 
the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military industrial 
complex that constitutes a state secret."

   The Wall Street Journal said it "vehemently denies the allegations" and is 
seeking Gershkovich's immediate release. "We stand in solidarity with Evan and 
his family," the paper said.

   The arrest comes amid bitter tensions between the West and Moscow over its 
war in Ukraine.

   Gershkovich is the first American reporter to be arrested on espionage 
charges in Russia since September 1986, when Nicholas Daniloff, a Moscow 
correspondent for U.S. News and World Report, was arrested by the KGB. He was 
released without charges 20 days later in a swap for an employee of the Soviet 
Union's United Nations mission who was arrested by the FBI.

   The FSB didn't say when the arrest took place. Gershkovich, who covers 
Russia, Ukraine and other ex-Soviet nations as a correspondent in the Wall 
Street Journal's Moscow bureau, could face up to 20 years in prison if 
convicted of espionage.

   The FSB noted that he had accreditation from the Russian Foreign Ministry to 
work as a journalist, but ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Gershkovich 
was using his journalistic credentials as a cover for "activities that have 
nothing to do with journalism."

   His last report from Moscow, published earlier this week, focused on the 
Russian economy's slowdown amid Western sanctions imposed when Russian troops 
invaded Ukraine last year.

   Gershkovich's arrest follows a swap in December, in which WNBA star Brittney 
Griner was freed after 10 months behind bars in exchange for Russian arms 
dealer Viktor Bout.

   Another American, Paul Whelan, a Michigan corporate security executive, has 
been imprisoned in Russia since December 2018 on espionage charges that his 
family and the U.S. government have said are baseless.

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