Arsenal fans displayed a banner during their match against Southampton on Friday in support of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was been detained by authorities in Russia.
During what the Wall Street Journal described as a “reporting trip”, Gershkovich was arrested in the city of Yekaterinburg on March 29 and later charged over alleged espionage. He is being held in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison.
Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal and the US government all strongly reject the allegation of espionage.
Gershkovich, a US citizen, is a known Arsenal fan and his situation has since garnered support from the north London club’s fanbase on social media. This culminated with a banner held up at the Emirates during the Southampton game.
Two days following Gershkovich’s arrest, US President Joe Biden called on Russia to “let him go” and said they were working on securing his release.
The Wall Street Journal has said the Gershkovich was accredited to work as a journalist in Russia by their foreign ministry at the time of his detention.
The US ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, has said: “The charges against Evan are baseless, and we call on the Russian Federation to immediately release him.”
Anthony Blinken, US Secretary of State, has determined that Gershkovich has been “wrongfully detained” and has echoed the call to release the journalist. This allows the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs to lead the case for his release.
Blinken has been in talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov over Gershkovich’s release.
On Monday, Tracy had visited Gershkovich in prison and said on social media that “he is in good health and remains strong”.
On Tuesday, a Russian court upheld Gershkovich’s detention and denied him bail on Tuesday.
Russian state news agency TASS has reported that Gershkovich has been ordered to be detained until May 29.
Tracy, Blinken and the US authorities say they remain committed to freeing Gershkovich, who is the first journalist to be detained by Russian authorities on allegations of spying since the Cold War.
Tensions between the US and Russia have escalated since the latter’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, has said: “The targeting of American citizens by Russian government is unacceptable. We condemn the detention of Mr Gershkovich in the strongest terms. We also condemn the Russian government’s continued targeting and repression of journalists.”
(Photo: Getty Images)
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