On Thursday, the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia announced that it had detained Evan Gershkovich, a US national who works as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, on suspicion of espionage on behalf of the United States.

The FSB has initiated a criminal investigation against Gershkovich, alleging that he gathered information classified as state secrets about a military factory. The FSB did not disclose the name or location of the factory but stated that Gershkovich was apprehended in Yekaterinburg, a city in the Urals, while attempting to obtain secret information. No evidence was provided to support the charges.

The FSB asserted in a statement that Gershkovich was acting on behalf of the American side and had been collecting sensitive information on one of Russia’s military-industrial complexes. The detention of Gershkovich marks the most serious public move against a foreign journalist since Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.



Russia has implemented tighter censorship laws since its military operation in Ukraine began in February 2022. The Wall Street Journal and the US Embassy in Moscow did not respond immediately to requests for comment from Reuters. A US diplomatic source stated that the embassy had not been notified of the incident and was seeking information from Russian authorities about the case.

Foreign journalists covering Russia expressed their support for Gershkovich online, contending that he was a professional journalist and not a spy. Andrei Soldatov, an author and an expert in Russia’s security agencies, who is currently outside the country, stated on social media that Gershkovich was an excellent and courageous journalist and not a spy. He further noted that the detention of Gershkovich represented a frontal attack on all foreign correspondents still working in Russia and that the FSB was off the leash.

According to Russia’s Kommersant newspaper, Gershkovich will be transported to Moscow and detained in the Lefortovo prison, an FSB pre-trial detention facility. Gershkovich, who has covered Russia since 2017, previously worked at The Moscow Times and France’s Agence-France Presse news agency.

In recent months, he had primarily reported on Russian politics and the Ukraine conflict. On Thursday, his mobile phone was unreachable, and according to the Telegram messenger service, he was last online on Wednesday at 1:28 pm Moscow time.