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Fox News
Fox News
1 Apr 2023


An American journalist was arrested in Russia, Thursday, on charges of espionage, causing widespread outrage among media outlets and leaders. 

While the details of the charges remain uncertain, one former Russian correspondent expressed his concern surrounding the Wall Street Journal reporter's fate.

"The fact that we do know what he's charged with does give us an idea of what might await him, because he's being charged with espionage, a very serious crime," former NPR Moscow correspondent Lucian Kim said on "Fox News Live" Saturday. 

"He'll probably face a closed trial. We probably won't even have a good idea what the concrete accusations are, and he'll probably be sentenced."

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was arrested by Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), Thursday, while reporting in Yekaterinburg, which is roughly 800 miles east of Moscow, and detained on espionage charges. The FSB is considered the successor to the Soviet’s notorious KGB. Russian state news agency TASS has reported that Gershkovich was ordered to be held in custody until May 29. The New York Times reported that if past cases are any indication, he could be held in a high-security prison for more than a year.

WALL STREET JOURNAL DEFENDS REPORTER AFTER HE'S ARRESTED BY RUSSIA ON SUSPICION OF ESPIONAGE

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was detained by Russian officials on espionage charges.

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was detained by Russian officials on espionage charges. (Fox News)

Gershkovich is the first American journalist arrested in Russia and charged with espionage since U.S. News & World Report correspondent Nicholas Daniloff in 1986. Daniloff was released in a prisoner swap after being held captive for two weeks. 

Kim, who worked in Moscow for around 13 years, noted that with Putin's invasion of Ukraine, the situation for foreign journalists in Russia dramatically changed.

"All the time that I was there, foreign journalists sort of worked with a certain sense of immunity that we weren't really affected by all sorts of Draconian laws. We were writing for a foreign audience, and the Kremlin didn't even really care that much what we were writing. All that changed at the beginning of Putin's full-scale invasion," Kim explained.

"A lot of U.S. news organizations pulled out their correspondents because they were afraid of falling afoul of new laws against spreading so-called fake news or discrediting the Russian military. And that's what everyone was afraid about, those laws. And now what happened to Evan is he's being charged with espionage, which is a very, very serious crime." 

WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORTER IMPRISONED IN RUSSIA HAILED BY COLLEAGUES FOR CHARISMA, COURAGE

Having met the WSJ reporter while working in Moscow, Kim shared how Gershkovich was a dedicated reporter with a particular interest in Russia which may have driven the reporter to stay despite a massive media exodus. 

"Evan is an extremely committed reporter. His parents are Soviet emigres, so he had Russian language growing up, and it was a big story. What is going on inside Russia? A lot of the focus right now is rightfully on Ukraine. But what is actually happening inside of Russia, especially because of all these Draconian laws? I think that is what drove him to go there and keep on reporting," Kim said.

Several media outlets have condemned the move from Russia, and the White House has also weighed in on the situation. 

When asked about Gershkovich's imprisonment Friday, President Biden responded, "Let him go," sending a clear message to Moscow. 

PUTIN USING WSJ REPORTER TO PUSH NARRATIVE US IS TRYING TO ‘DESTABILIZE’ RUSSIA, EXPERTS SAY

Kim shared he believes Gershkovich is "a hostage," and that many other Americans may become victim to a similar fate as tensions rise between the U.S. and Russia.

Former CIA station chief and Fox News contributor Daniel Hoffman and a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Rebekah Koffler shared their confidence with Fox News Digital that any release of Gershkovich will be due to a trade between the U.S. and Russia.

"Anybody who says anything nice about Vladimir Putin ought to be thinking twice. This is what he does," Hoffman said. "You know, this is how he treats [the] innocent."

"[Russia knows] that we're very sensitive to individuals lives. U.S. culture is like every life matters… it's typical Putin's playbook-hostage diplomacy," Koffler said. "Russia has perfected it in a form of statecraft. Why do they do it? It's because we have taught them that it works." 

As the war in Ukraine rages on drawing support from Western allies, friction between the U.S. and Russia grows stronger, putting journalists like Gershkovich in a dangerous position.

"So it seems like Evan, unfortunately, and I hate to say these words, but he has become a pawn in this kind of game," Kim said. "What the Russians want, we can only imagine."

Fox News' Brian Flood and David Rutz contributed to this report.

Madeline Coggins is a Digital Production Assistant on the Fox News flash team with Fox News Digital.