The Executive Group of the Media Freedom Coalition strongly condemns the Russian Federation’s detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. The detention of journalists under the guise of espionage charges is troubling and undermines the basic principles of democracy and rule of law. Mr. Gershkovich is a widely respected journalist who has spent years reporting on events in Russia with insight and integrity.
We note the widespread outcry from Russian and international journalists in response to Gershkovich’s arrest, including an open letter signed by dozens of prominent independent media figures from Russia that calls the case against him “preposterous and unjust.”
Freedom of expression is a universal human right that is protected by international law; it includes the right to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, irrespective of borders. Journalists play a crucial role in holding governments and powerful people and institutions to account, while informing the public about matters of public interest. It is imperative that journalists are able to work independently and without fear of spurious charges being brought against them.
The Kremlin’s sweeping censorship and suppression of media freedom at home enables relentless state-sponsored disinformation about its war in Ukraine to spread virtually unchallenged to the public in Russia. We condemn the Russian Federation’s moves to silence journalists and use its authority to intimidate or harass them. The Russian Government must comply with its international human rights obligations and not abuse its power to punish members of the media for their critical reporting.
We call on the Russian Federation to drop the charges against Evan Gershkovich and release him immediately, along with all others it has similarly detained for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Czech Republic
The United Kingdom
The United States