US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to seek the immediate release of Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, the two U.S. citizens detained in Russia.
“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Secretary Blinken conveyed the United States’ grave concern over Russia’s unacceptable detention of a U.S. citizen journalist,” Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said in a press release, referring to Wall Street Journal’s Moscow reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested last week.
“Secretary Blinken further urged the Kremlin to immediately release wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Paul Whelan,” he added.
Blinken and Lavrov also discussed the importance of creating an environment that permits diplomatic missions to carry out their work, the State Department read out said.
Gershkovich was arrested in the eastern city of Yekaterinburg, where an espionage case has been opened against him, according to the Russian federal security agency.
WSJ denies’ allegations against Gershkovich, who has been working as Wall Street Journal’s reporter as part of its Moscow bureau.
Paul Whelan, a former U.S. marine, was arrested in Russia in 2018, and accused of spying. He received a 16-year prison sentence with the possibility of time in a labor camp.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that in Sunday’s phone call, Lavrov told Blinken that Gershkovich’s fate would be decided by a Russian court.
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