Lawyers representing an American reporter arrested in Russia on spying charges met with him in a Moscow prison on Tuesday for the first time since his detention last week and said “his health is good,” according to his employer, The Wall Street Journal.
Evan Gershkovich, 31, was arrested Thursday in Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city. He is the first U.S. correspondent since the Cold War to be detained on espionage accusations. The Journal has denied the charges.
“Evan’s health is good, and he is grateful for the outpouring of support from around the world. We continue to call for his immediate release,” the Journal's editor-in-chief, Emma Tucker, said in a note to the newsroom Tuesday. She said the paper was encouraged by the visit.
Gershkowich's family, she said, “are relieved to know we finally have contact with Evan.”
The reporter is being kept behind bars for two months pending an investigation. Moscow’s Lefortovsky District court said Monday that it had received an appeal against Gershkovich’s arrest filed by his defense, according to Russian news agencies. No date for a hearing on the appeal has been set.
Gershkovich is in Moscow's Lefortovo prison. A Russian state prison monitor said Monday that Gershkovich was in a quarantine cell while undergoing medical checks, was reading a book from the prison library, and had access to a TV, radio and refrigerator. The prison monitor, Alexei Melnikov, didn't say when he saw Gershkovich, but said he was cheerful. That report couldn't be independently verified.
Russia’s Federal Security Service, of FSB, the top successor to the Soviet-era KGB, accused Gershkovich of trying to obtain classified information about a Russian arms factory.
U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Monday that the Biden administration was pressing hard for Gershkovich's release. “It’s got attention all the way up to the Oval Office in terms of how we can get him home,” Kirby told reporters in Washington.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged his Russian counterpart Sunday — during a rare phone call between the diplomats since the start of the Ukraine war — to release Gershkovich immediately, as well as another imprisoned American, Paul Whelan.