The White House warned this evening (Thursday) that "United States citizens living or traveling in Russia should leave immediately, as the State Department continues to advise."
This is after the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia announced that the reporter of the American newspaper "Wall Street Journal", Ivan Gershkovich, 32 years old, was arrested in the city of Yekaterinburg on suspicion of espionage.
John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, also emphasized the need to heed the warning of the United States government not to travel to Russia.
"I can't speak to the efforts in telling other parties to remove their journalists from Moscow," Kirby said.
"We understand that you all have important work to do, and in doing that work, you are all willing and must take risks. We respect that. But that does not change our deep concern about the presence of American citizens in Russia."
Evan Gershkovich, the reporter who was arrested in Russia on suspicion of espionage (photo: screenshot, official website)
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The White House and the State Department are in contact with the "Wall Street Journal" newspaper and Gershkovich's family, as well as with the Russian government, the White House announced this evening.
Russia announced that it would grant the US consulate in the country access to the detained reporter.
"The Americans requested through diplomatic means access to the American citizen who was arrested in Yekaterinburg on charges of espionage," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the Reuters news agency.
"Consular access to him will be granted in due course."
The "Wall Street Journal" stated after the publications about the arrest: "We vehemently deny the FSB's accusations and demand the immediate release of our reliable and dedicated reporter, Evan Gershkovich."
The Kremlin said Gershkovich's arrest was an "FSB matter", and in his understanding, the reporter was "arrested red-handed".
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that "the question of exchanging the Wall Street Journal reporter who was arrested on suspicion of espionage with the United States is not a relevant issue at the moment," according to a report by the RIA news agency.
He added that "Prisoners have been exchanged in the past with people who have already been convicted, we will see how the story develops."
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A "Wall Street Journal" reporter was arrested on suspicion of espionage
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British Foreign Secretary James Calverley condemned Ewan's arrest.
"Russia's decision to arrest an American journalist shows their complete disregard for media freedom. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the United States in defending these basic democratic principles."
Wall Street Journal