The family of Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter detained in Russia, issued its first public statement since his arrest last month.

“In addition to being a distinguished journalist, Evan is a beloved son and brother,” his family said in a statement Tuesday. “There is a hole in our hearts and in our family that won’t be filled until we are reunited. We are grateful for the outpouring of support from his colleagues, friends and everyone standing with Evan and advocating for his immediate release.”

Evan Gershkovich being interviewed at a Moscow radio station. Courtesy of Bowdoin College

Gershkovich, 31, graduated from Bowdoin College in 2014. He was taken into custody March 29 in the city of Yekaterinburg and accused of spying. The Journal said he was on a reporting trip and denied he was involved in espionage; the White House declared Monday that Gershkovich is being wrongfully detained, a designation that means the Biden administration will devote more resources to Gershkovich’s case and the State Department will lead the effort to free him, according to The Associated Press.

“We are encouraged that the State Department has officially designated Evan as wrongfully detained,” Gershkovich’s family said.

Biden called Gershkovich’s parents Tuesday while he was aboard Air Force One en route to Ireland and Northern Ireland. He said their son is “top of mind,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.

The president “felt it was really important to connect with Evan’s family, his parents,” Jean-Pierre said, according to the AP.


“We appreciate President Biden’s call to us today, assuring us that the U.S. government is doing everything in its power to bring him home as quickly as possible,” his family said.

Gershkovich’s parents, Mikhail and Ella, are Jewish and fled Russia for the United States when they were in their 20s, according to the Journal. They settled in New Jersey, where Evan Gershkovich grew up speaking Russian. At Bowdoin, he took Russian courses and wrote for The Bowdoin Orient, the student newspaper. After graduation, he worked as a news assistant for The New York Times. In 2017, he moved to Russia to report for The Moscow Times. He went on to report on Russia for the French news agency Agence France-Presse.

The Journal hired him in January 2022. When Russia invaded Ukraine, Gershkovich traveled to the Belarus-Ukraine border and was the only American reporter to witness the first wounded Russian forces being taken back home, according to the Journal.

In the days leading up to his arrest, Gershkovich was thinking about traveling to Nizhny Tagil, site of the Uralvagonzavod tank factory, Russian journalist Dmitry Kolezev told NBC News.

“He has this idea to interview some people on the streets nearby Russian military factories,” Kolezev told NBC. “He wanted to know what people think about the war.”

Kolezev also said Gershkovich was reporting on Russian citizens’ view of the Wagner Group, the private army that has been fighting alongside Russian forces in Ukraine.


Russia’s Federal Security Service said in a statement that Gershkovich was conducting “espionage in the interests of the American government” and that he was gathering “information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex,” according to the AP.

The Wall Street Journal and White House denied those claims.

Gershkovich was detained just six days after the U.S. Department of Justice accused 37-year-old Russian national Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov of spying for his home country, leading some legal experts to speculate that Gershkovich’s arrest was an act of retaliation.

Gershkovich faces a prison sentence of up to 20 years if he’s convicted. Russian criminal cases have a 99% conviction rate, according to legal experts.

As he awaits trial, friends started a fundraiser to benefit Gershkovich’s family and their efforts to free him. As of Wednesday, it raised $29,000 of the $100,000 goal.

In a statement, Almar Latour, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, and editor-in-chief Emma Tucker said, “We are doing everything in our power to support Evan and his family and will continue working with the State Department and other relevant U.S. officials to push for his release.

“He is a distinguished journalist, and his arrest is an attack on a free press, and it should spur outrage in all free people and governments around the world.”

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