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In rare joint statement, congressional leaders mark year since reporter’s detainment

The
top
four
leaders
in
Congress
issued
a
joint
statement
Friday
marking
one
year
of
Wall
Street
Journal
reporter
Evan
Gershkovich’s
wrongful
detainment
in
Russia
and
calling
for
his
release,
marking
a
rare
moment
of
bipartisan
unity
in
Washington.

Gershkovich,
a
32-year-old
American
citizen,
was
arrested
in
late
March
2023
while
on
a
reporting
trip
and
faces
espionage
charges.
Gershkovich,
the
Wall
Street
Journal
and
the
U.S.
government
have
vehemently
denied
the
allegations.
A
Moscow
court
has

again
extended
Gershkovich’s
detention

until
at
least
late
June.

Senate
Majority
Leader
Charles
E.
Schumer
(D-N.Y.),
Senate
Minority
Leader
Mitch
McConnell
(R-Ky.),
House
Speaker
Mike
Johnson
(R-La.),
and
House
Minority
Leader
Hakeem
Jeffries
(D-N.Y.)
said
in
their
statement
Friday
that
they
“continue
to
condemn
his
baseless
arrest,
fabricated
charges,
and
unjust
imprisonment.”

“Journalism
is
not
a
crime,
and
reporters
are
not
bargaining
chips.
The
Kremlin’s
attempts
to
silence
Evan
and
intimidate
other
Western
reporters
will
not
impede
the
pursuit
of
truth,”
they
added.

The
group
also
explicitly
spoke
out
against
Russian
President
Vladimir
Putin,
saying
he
“is
restoring
Soviet-style
control
through
repression
at
home
and
aggression
abroad.”

Earlier
Friday,
President
Biden
issued
a
statement
calling
the
day
“a
painful
anniversary”
and
vowing
to
continue
to
work
to
secure
Gershkovich’s
release.

“Evan
went
to
Russia
to
do
his
job
as
a
reporter

risking
his
safety
to
shine
the
light
of
truth
on
Russia’s
brutal
aggression
against
Ukraine,”
Biden
said.

Biden
noted
that,
shortly
after
Gershkovich
was
detained,
he
drafted
a
letter
to
his
family
from
prison
that
sought
to
reassure
them:
“I
am
not
losing
hope.”

The
president
and
the
congressional
leaders
also
expressed
their
support
for
Paul
Whelan,
a
former
Marine
who
was

sentenced
to
16
years
in
a
Russian
prison
in
2020

after
being
convicted
of
spying,
as
well
as
other
Americans
wrongfully
detained
abroad.

Gershkovich’s
arrest
marked
the
first
time
an
American
journalist
had
been
accused
of
espionage
in
Russia
since
the
Cold
War.

Analysts
believe

Russia
may
be
using
Americans
like
Gershkovich
as
bargaining
chips
with
the
U.S.
government
over
Russia’s
war
in
Ukraine.


Amy
B
Wang
contributed
to
this
report.

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