US President Joe Biden on Friday called on Russia to release Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporter Evan Gershkovich, who is being held on espionage charges, rejecting calls by the newspaper’s editorial board to expel Russian journalists from the United States.
Asked by White House reporters what message he was sending to Russia regarding US citizen E. Gershkovich, Mr Biden replied: “Let him go”.
The WSJ editorial board called for the expulsion of Russia’s ambassador to the United States, as well as “all Russian journalists working here,” in an editorial published Thursday afternoon, describing the move as “the less than can be expected”.
“The timing of the arrest appears to be a calculated provocation aimed at humiliating the United States and intimidating foreign media still operating in Russia,” he added.
Speaking to reporters before leaving to investigate tornado damage in Mississippi, Mr Biden said there were “no plans at this time” to send Russian reporters.
Gershkovich was arrested in Yekaterinburg, about 1,800 km east of Moscow, and will be held in a Moscow detention center until May 29 pending trial.
He is believed to be the first foreign journalist to be arrested for spying in post-Soviet Russia, and his arrest is likely to escalate the Kremlin’s confrontation with the West as Moscow continues its war in Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, responding to the editorial’s request to expel all Russian journalists, said that “the newspaper can say that, but it shouldn’t be. There is no just no reason for it.”
Source: The Delfi