Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a Tuesday press conference had warned journalists against “even setting foot” in Russia, following the arrest on espionage charges of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.
“And I think it sends a very strong message to people around the world to beware of even setting foot there lest they be arbitrarily detained, and in the context of being arbitrarily detained not even having access for the diplomats who are there to look out for their interests and who, as a matter of solemn international obligations that Russia has undertaken, should be allowed that access,” Blinken said in the remarks.
“I’m not going to get into what measures, steps we’re taking or might take to do that. I can simply tell you that we are engaged every single day in pressing for that access as well as pressing for Evan’s release,” he continued.
The day prior, Gershkovich was classified by the State Department and Biden administration as wrongfully detained. This means the US can legally approach the case as a hostage negotiation and thus use all available means to obtain their release, including potential prisoner swap, as was controversially done with the WNBA’s Griner. At this point, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs can get involved, utilizing interagency resources as well.
Blinken in the new statements also confirmed President Biden spoke to Gershkovich’s family on Tuesday.
Addressing the issue of lack of consular access for the detained journalists, Blinken said, “The fact that Russia has not granted that access puts it once again in violation of international commitments it’s made, commitments that are at the heart of diplomatic relations between countries and the ability of our citizens as well to be able to safely be present in other countries.”
It should be recalled that multiple months passed before Griner was declared wrongfully detained, which is what ultimately led to her being swapped for Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout; but in Gershkovich’s case, it has only taken a few weeks. Clearly, the US administration wants to see Gershkovich back quickly, despite the major obstacles.
You’d think the Kremlin’s phony spy charge against Evan Gershkovich would stir up Anglo-US journalists & politicians to agitate against the savage imprisonment of Assange on phony spy charges.https://t.co/VIG70rvHG5
— Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled) April 11, 2023
With these new warnings for journalists to ‘not even step foot’ in Russia, the administration is wary that Russian authorities may go after more American citizens to use as bargaining chips and leverage.