Family of imprisoned journalist Evan Gershkovich hope for his release

Family of imprisoned journalist Evan Gershkovich hope for release

When the truth becomes a crime overseas, Americans take action. That's what is happening one year after American journalist Evan Gershkovich was imprisoned in Russia.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — American journalist Evan Gershkovich has been imprisoned in Russia for a year. His newspaper editor and his family are mounting a public awareness campaign to try to bring him home.

“He’s just a really fun-loving, adventurous, kind person. He’s often the life of the party,” said Danielle Gershkovich, Evan’s sister. “I’ve heard him described as the smartest person in the room, and also just the silliest at the same time.”

Danielle says her brother went to Russia to pursue his passion, but for the past year, he’s been in a Russian jail cell.

Ryan Laughlin: What was his assignment at the time of, about this time last year?

Paul Beckett, WSJ assistant editor: We hired Evan in early 2022, just before the start of the Ukraine war to be a Moscow correspondent for us. And we were absolutely delighted that he came on board. In the time since, he had been reporting from Moscow as an accredited journalist by the Russian government. A year ago when he was back in Russia, reporting, he was snatched by the Russia Security Services and has been in jail since.

Ryan Laughlin: Was this a complete shock – what happened a year ago?

Paul Beckett: We don’t know why exactly the Russians took him, because we’ve seen no evidence over the course of this year to illuminate that. But obviously reporting in Russia has become a much riskier business. And it’s gotten to the point where what you and I would consider fair and independent reporting is criminalized.

Evan has been confined to a cell for 23 hours a day on espionage charges. His sister says he’s allowed to write, read, and send letters. He is also keeping his sense of humor.

Interestingly, he had covered the Brittany Griner detention in Russia.

Ryan Laughlin: Do you feel there’s any inequity with a person who’s meant to hold the government accountable in this spot – perhaps not getting the type of attention that somebody in the entertainment, sports world received?

Paul Beckett: Evan is getting attention from the U.S. government and we’re grateful for that. I think Evan’s case, Brittany Griner’s case – they all need to be seen as what they are. This is hostage-taking by the Putin regime, and that’s been going on for some time now. It’s a way the Russian government thinks it can gain leverage on the U.S. So that’s where it begins, it begins with the Russian government taking innocent people hostage and seeing what they can get for them.

They’re determined to not stop until Evan is home.

For updates on Evan Gershkovich, click here.