The White House on Thursday rejected espionage charges made by Russia against Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, calling the claims “ridiculous.”
“What I can say is the charges against him are ridiculous, we have been very clear about that,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Thursday. “Those are ridiculous and they’re not accurate.”
Jean-Pierre would not answer a question about whether Gershkovich has ever worked for the United States government. Russia has claimed Gershkovich was acting on orders from the United States to “collect information about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military industrial complex that constitutes a state secret.”
The Journal has also rejected the allegations that Gershkovich was conducting espionage.
Jean-Pierre said a process conducted within the State Department would determine if Gershkovich would be designated as wrongfully detained.
“We have to make sure that we get the information. The most important thing at this moment is to get a counselor to Evan, and that’s what we’re working on,” she said.
Gershkovich was arrested by the Russian Federal Security Service, the main successor agency to the Soviet-era KGB, in Yekaterinburg, where he was allegedly trying to gain access to classified information, according to Russian authorities.
White House National Security spokesman John Kirby said earlier on Thursday that the Biden administration is working to gain access to Gershkovich and to get more information about the arrest.
“We’re doing the best we can to glean as much information as possible. And certainly … to get access to Evan, that’s where our heads are,” Kirby said.