The U.N. General Assembly will begin next week. The family of Wall Street Journal reporter Even Gershkovich and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations call for Evan’s immediate release from Russia, where he has been imprisoned since March.
“No family should have to watch their loved one being used as a political pawn. And that’s exactly what President Putin is doing,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the ambassador, said Wednesday during a briefing at the U.N., referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Russia’s actions are beyond cruel, and they are a violation of international law.”
“We urge all world leaders to stand with Evan and what he represents: the basic right to a free press and freedom of expression,” Mikhail Gershkovich, Evan’s father, said Wednesday. “These rights are bedrock principles of the United Nations.”
“We urge all member states to join this call for Evan’s release, and the release of all those who have been wrongfully detained,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
Evan Gershkovich is a 31-year-old American citizen who is accredited to work as a foreign correspondent by Russian authorities. He was detained by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) in March while on a reporting trip in Yekaterinburg. He is being held on an allegation of espionage. The Wall Street Journal and the U.S. government deny such charges. Evan is based in Moscow, reporting for the Wall Street Journal’s Moscow bureau.
His family is aggressively seeking his release. Both his mother and father immigrated from Russia as young adults. They met in Manhattan. Evan speaks fluent Russian. His mother, Ella Milman, said Wednesday that she hopes the petition will help bring her son home sooner.
In April, the U.S. government designated Gershkovich wrongfully detained. This designation is to pressure Russia to free him. They want him to be declared arbitrarily detained.
Lawyers representing Dow Jones, the Journal’s publisher, on Tuesday requested that a U.N. group declare Gershkovich arbitrarily detained. The lawyers accused Putin of using Gershkovich as a pawn and of “holding him hostage.” The lawyers said Russia has violated the journalist’s rights and freedoms under international law by holding him without publicly offering evidence against him.
Evan’s family are determined to bring him home. His father said that the detainment is ” a nightmare” for the family. His sister, Danielle, said her family should be planning for his next visit home and his birthday celebration next month.
“Instead we are here to remind the world that Evan is innocent and journalism is not a crime,” she said. “We ask that world leaders help find a solution to secure Evan’s release.”
“If this can happen to my brother,” she added, “it can happen to any journalist trying to report the news.”
His Russian lawyers and Lynne Tracy, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, say Evan is holding up well, all things considered. He is able to communicate with his family through letters. He teases his mother that prison food reminds him of her cooking.
Thomas-Greenfield said she couldn’t share details on negotiations for Evan’s release – and the release of Paul Whelan – but that they are working “diligently” around the clock.
It may be that Evan won’t be released until after the 2024 presidential election. Evan’s detention is a poke in Biden’s eye in retaliation for U.S. support of Ukraine and because Biden is seen as weak on the world stage. That’s my opinion, anyway.