Behind Bars in Russia: The Ordeal of Evan Gershkovich, Wall Street Journal Reporter

A year ago, Danielle Gershkovich received a startling call from her mother, delivering news that left her incredulous.

Her younger brother, Evan, a reporter with the Wall Street Journal, had been arrested—a rare occurrence for a US journalist in Russia since the Cold War—on charges of espionage. The potential consequence: up to 20 years behind bars.

Reflecting on the challenging year since, Danielle shares her sentiments via video call from Washington. “It’s been incredibly tough,” she confides. “The uncertainty weighs heavily.”

Amidst the adversity, the act of exchanging letters has provided solace. Despite his confinement, the imprisoned journalist has diligently penned numerous missives.

“We find comfort in keeping the mood light,” Danielle explains. “There’s a lot of playful banter and teasing exchanged between siblings, all laced with affection.”

National Press Club Evan and Danielle
Evan and his sister Danielle stay in contact by writing letters

“I recently asked him if it’s OK for me to see the Dune movie, the sequel. I felt guilty about watching it, knowing he can’t.”

Evan’s ordeal began a thousand miles away from Moscow, in the city of Yekaterinburg. While on a reporting assignment there, he was detained by Russia’s domestic security service, the FSB. Russian authorities allege that the American was apprehended “red-handed” with “classified information”. However, both his employer and US authorities vehemently deny the espionage accusations.

Despite being confined in a Russian jail, Evan continues to demonstrate his thoughtfulness towards his family.

“On International Women’s Day, he arranged for the women in his life to receive bouquets,” Danielle shares. “Even in his own difficult circumstances, he prioritizes those around him. We miss him dearly.”

Since Evan Gershkovich’s arrest, opportunities to see him here in Moscow have been few and far between.

Admittedly, he has made several court appearances over the past 12 months. Occasionally, the media is granted access to film him.

However, these glimpses last no longer than a minute.

For us, it’s a fleeting moment to gauge how Evan is faring.

But for Evan, it presents a brief opportunity to catch sight of some familiar faces.

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