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Evan Gershkovich Could Use a Whole Lotta Love
The falsely accused Wall Street Journal reporter languishes in a Moscow jail
Evan Gershkovich passed his hundredth day in a Moscow prison on July 7th. Falsely accused of being a U.S. spy, the 31-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter may well have been arrested by Russian authorities to set up in a prisoner swap.
WNBA star Brittney Griner, imprisoned on a minor drug charge for 10 months in 2022, was swapped last year for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was serving a 25-year sentence in a U.S. federal prison. Then again, Russia has refused to release Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine and corporate security director convicted on espionage charges in 2018. He is serving a 16-year sentence. Last month Russian police also arrested Moscow-based record producer Michael Travis Leake on a drug trafficking charge. He, Whelan and Gershkovich have all said they are innocent of the charges.
The White House has doubled down on the innocence of Gershkovich, who joined the Wall Street Journal in January 2022 after stints with the New York Times, the English-language Moscow Times and Agence France-Presse. At the time of his arrest the Bowdoin College graduate had lived in Russia for six years.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan reiterated Saturday that Gershkovich had been wrongfully detained and said the Biden administration was "prepared to do hard things in order to get our citizens home, including getting Evan home.”
“I do not want to give false hope," he added. "We have a clear commitment and conviction that we will do everything possible to bring him home." On Tuesday the Kremlin said there had been "certain contacts" with the U.S. over Gershkovich's case, “suggesting the possibility of a prisoner exchange,” the BBC reported.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal aired a touching interview with Gershkovich’s parents. To help keep his spirits up, his mother Ella Milman told WSJ senior video reporter Shelby Holliday, “we write letters.” They try to humor him with light hearted cracks and comments. His sister Danielle noted that his hair, which had grown out during his three months captivity, “gives you a very romantic look.” His mother joked that he was her “prisoner” who now had to listen to all her “stories,” which previously seemed to bore him.
“Don’t worry about that,” he responded, she said. “I love your stories. Keep writing them.”
Innumerable protests have been lodged at Moscow over Gershkovich’s detainment. But an email channel has been set up for him to get messages of support encouraging him to stay strong, Holliday told me. It’s Freegershkovich@gmail.com. Or use this WSJ form to share a message with his family. “Eventually, Evan will be able to read these himself,” the Journal says.
I’m writing to him today. How about you?
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