30 Mar 2023 20:54

Blinken condemns detention of U.S. journalist in Russia, seeks consular access to him

WASHINGTON. March 30 (Interfax) - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday condemned the detention of Wall Street Journal correspondent Evan Gershkovich in Russia and again called on all U.S. citizens to leave Russia.

"We are deeply concerned over Russia's widely-reported detention of a U.S. citizen journalist. We are in contact with the Wall Street Journal on this situation. Whenever a U.S. citizen is detained abroad, we immediately seek consular access, and seek to provide all appropriate support," Blinken said in a statement, as quoted by U.S. media.

Blinken reiterated that it is dangerous for U.S. citizens to stay in Russia and said that they all "should depart immediately."

The White House said, in turn, that the U.S. authorities were actively contacting Russia regarding the Gershkovich case.

"The State Department has been in direct touch with the Russian government on this matter, including actively working to secure consular access to Gershkovich," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

"The targeting of American citizens by the Russian government is unacceptable. We condemn the detention of Gershkovich in the strongest terms," she said.

Earlier on Thursday, Moscow's Lefortovsky District Court granted investigators' motion and issued an arrest warrant for Evan Gershkovich, a correspondent of The Wall Street Journal Moscow bureau detained on espionage counts. According to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), Gershkovich, "acting on the orders of the U.S., was gathering information about a Russian defense plant that constitutes a state secret."

The court ordered a restraint measure for Gershkovich in the form of custody until May 29, 2023.