- A US reporter jailed in Russia has written his first letter from prison, and his family says his “spirit is shining”.
- Evan Gershkovich said he was “not losing hope”, reading and exercising, and was trying to write.
- Meanwhile, the US has urged Russia to allow Gershkovich consular access.
Evan Gershkovich, the United States journalist detained in Russia, has written his first letter home as Washington demands Moscow allow its officials to visit him in jail.
Gershkovich, a Moscow-based reporter for The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), was and , an allegation he, the US government, and his employer have denied.
His family on Friday (local time) received a letter from him written in Russian — a language he speaks at home with his parents, who fled the Soviet Union in 1979, the .
Russia-based Wall Street Journal reporter, Evan Gershkovich, is currently awaiting trial in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison. Source: AAP, SIPA USA / SOPA Images/
In what is the first direct communication he has had with his family since his arrest, Gershkovich appears to be in good spirits.
He said he was “not losing hope”, reading and exercising, and was trying to write.
“Maybe, finally, I am going to write something good,” wrote Gershkovich in the letter dated 5 April, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The 31-year-old also light-heartedly poked fun at his mother’s cooking, saying it had prepared him for what he was being served while behind bars.
“Mom, you unfortunately, for better or worse, prepared me well for jail food,” he wrote.
“In the morning, for breakfast, they give us hot creamed wheat, oatmeal cereal or wheat gruel. I am remembering my childhood,” he reportedly said.
His mother told the newspaper she was overjoyed to have heard from him.
“These are my son’s words, not someone else telling me,” said Ella Milman, according to the WSJ. “And his spirit is shining.”
Evan Gershkovich is escorted by Russian officers from court to a bus on 30 March. Source: AP / Alexander Zemlianichenko
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday urged Russia to allow Gershkovich consular access, which Russian officials have so far refused, in accordance with international law.
“We continue to call for his immediate release, and certainly we need to see consular access now,” Mr Blinken said.
The US government declared on Monday that Gershkovich had been “wrongfully detained” — a designation which raises the issue’s political profile and allows the government to allocate more resources to securing his release.
It comes after Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, told the state-run TASS news agency on Thursday that a prisoner swap may be possible, but would only be considered after a court delivers its verdict in the espionage case.
“We have a working channel that was used in the past to achieve concrete agreements, and these agreements were fulfilled,” Mr Ryabkov said.
In December last year, exchanging Brittney Griner, an American basketball star who was convicted of drug charges, for Viktor Bout, who had been jailed in the US for arms dealing.
Gershkovich is the first US journalist to be detained in Russian on espionage charges since the end of the Cold War.