Global media urge Russia to release WSJ reporter - Reuters stays out
Wednesday 5 April 2023
More than three dozen news organisations and press freedom groups have come together to call on Russia to release Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich (photo) - but Reuters is not among them.
Gershkovich, 31, was arrested on 29 March in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg and accused of spying, making him the first American journalist detained in Russia on espionage charges since the Cold War. The Journal denies the allegations against him and has called for his immediate release, as have US President Joe Biden and other government leaders.
In a letter sent on 30 March to the Russian ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, top editors from 38 organisations called Gershkovich’s arrest a significant escalation in the Russian government’s media crackdown. “Russia is sending the message that journalism within your borders is criminalised and that foreign correspondents seeking to report from Russia do not enjoy the benefits of the rule of law,” the letter said. It called on Russia to release Gershkovich immediately and unconditionally.
Signatories included AP executive editor Julie Pace, AFP’s global news director Phil Chetwynd and Matt Winkler, editor-in-chief emeritus of Bloomberg.
The letter was coordinated by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. Neither CPJ nor Reuters responded to a request for comment from The Baron, and it was not clear whether Reuters stayed out of the initiative to protect its journalists in Russia or to avoid a perception of taking sides.
Several of the news organisations whose editors signed the letter, including the BBC, AFP, AP, The New York Times and The Guardian, still have correspondents in Russia, where president Vladimir Putin’s government has put increasingly harsh constraints on independent reporting about the Russian war in Ukraine or criticism of its policies.
Reuters has a close association with CPJ. Editor-in-chief Alessandra Galloni and her predecessor Stephen Adler are on its board. The advocacy group’s president, Jodie Ginsberg, and its director of special projects, Robert Mahoney, were both Reuters correspondents. ■