The Federal Security Service (FSB), the top security agency of Russia , announced on Thursday that they had arrested Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich on charges of espionage.
The FSB claimed to have detained Gershkovich in the city of Ekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains while he was attempting to obtain classified information.
They further alleged that he had been “collecting classified information about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military industrial complex.” The FSB did not disclose the date of the arrest, but if found guilty of espionage, Gershkovich could face up to 20 years in prison.
Gershkovich is the first journalist from a US news outlet to be arrested on espionage charges in Russia since the Cold War.
His detention comes amid strained relations between Moscow and Washington, DC, due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
The FSB accused Gershkovich of “acting on US orders to collect information about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military industrial complex that constitutes a state secret.”
Gershkovich serves as a correspondent in the Wall Street Journal’s Moscow bureau and covers Russia and Ukraine. The FSB acknowledged that he had the necessary accreditation from the Russian foreign ministry to work as a journalist.
Gershkovich’s most recent report from Moscow, published earlier this week, focused on the slowdown of the Russian economy due to the western sanctions imposed when Russian troops entered Ukraine last year.