WASHINGTON: US State Department Secretary Antony Blinken on Thursday requested all Americans living in Russia to leave the country “immediately”, after a reporter was arrested in Moscow.
Taking to Twitter, Blinken said, “We are deeply concerned over Russia’s announcement it has detained a US citizen journalist. The @StateDept’s highest priority is the safety and
security of US citizens abroad. If you are a US citizen living or travelling in Russia – please leave immediately.”
These remarks came after an American reporter for Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Evann Gershkovich was arrested in Russia on espionage charges, according to Al-Jazeera.
In a statement, Blinken said, “We are deeply concerned over Russia’s widely-reported detention of a US citizen journalist. We are in contact with the Wall Street Journal on this situation. Whenever a US citizen is detained abroad, we immediately seek consular access, and seek to provide all appropriate support.”
“In the strongest possible terms, we condemn the Kremlin’s continued attempts to intimidate, repress, and punish journalists and civil society voices,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also expressed concern over the arrest of Evan Gershkovich in Russia. She also stated that last night, White House and State Department Officials spoke with Gershkovich’s employer, the Wall Street Journal.
“The Administration has also been in contact with his family. Furthermore, the State Department has been in direct touch with the Russian government on this matter, including actively working to secure consular access to Gershkovich,” the press secretary said in a tweet.
“The targeting of American citizens by the Russian government is unacceptable. We condemn the detention of Gershkovich in the strongest terms. We also condemn the Russian government’s continued targeting and repression of journalists and freedom of the press,” she added.
She also stated that the US government should heed the warning to not travel to Russia.
US citizens residing or travelling in Russia should depart immediately, as the State Department continues to advise, Pierre tweeted.
WSJ in a statement said, “The Wall Street Journal is deeply concerned for the safety of Gershkovich.”
The Federal Security Service (FSB), a top KGB successor agency, said that the WSJ reporter was detained from the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg while he was allegedly trying to obtain classified information.
In a statement, the FSB said, “Gershkovich acting on the instructions of the American side, collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex”, read a WSJ report.