US urges Americans to leave Russia ‘immediately’

Lazy eyes listen


In the aftermath of the arrest of Wall Street Journal (WSJ) correspondent Evan Gershkovich, Washington has urged Americans travelling to or residing in Russia to leave the country “immediately.” While Moscow claimed he was apprehended “red-handed” while attempting to obtain state secrets, the United States condemned the arrest as an attack on “press freedom.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed “deep concern” about the development, adding that “we condemn the Kremlin’s continued attempts to intimidate, repress, and punish journalists and civil society voices in the strongest possible terms.”

“We reiterate our grave concerns about the dangers that US citizens face inside the Russian Federation.” US citizens living or travelling in Russia should leave immediately, according to the top diplomat.

The White House sent a similar message, with Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre saying that “targeting of American citizens by the Russian government is unacceptable.”

“We also condemn the Russian government’s continued targeting and repression of journalists and press freedom,” she added, urging Americans to “heed the US government’s warning not to travel to Russia” or to leave if they are already there.

The call was somewhat watered down by US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, who explained that Washington was not calling on all Americans to literally leave Russia and was not encouraging news organisations to withdraw their correspondents.

Gershkovich, a WSJ correspondent who covers news from Russia, Ukraine, and the former Soviet Union, was detained in Ekaterinburg earlier today on suspicion of espionage, according to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). The journalist was caught “red-handed” while attempting to obtain Russian state secrets, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.