Capito, Young, colleagues seek Russia’s release of American journalist

U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Todd Young (R-IN) on Sept. 28 joined 25 of their colleagues in introducing a bipartisan resolution that calls on Russia to immediately release an American journalist held captive for more than six months.

Evan Gershkovich, 32, is a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, where he covers Russia, Ukraine and the former Soviet Union. In March, he was arrested in Russia while on a reporting trip and accused of espionage, making him the first American journalist detained in Russia on such charges since the Cold War.

“It is unacceptable that Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich remains detained in Russia for simply doing his job,” Sen. Capito said. “This further demonstrates Putin and Russia’s disregard for justice and accountability as they continue their unprovoked war against Ukraine. I’m proud to join with my colleagues to call for his immediate release.”

Sen. Capito and Sen. Young are original cosponsors of Senate Resolution (S.Res.) 385, which is sponsored by U.S. Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) and 24 other original cosponsors. The resolution notes that the Government of the Russian Federation has failed to publicly provide evidence of Gershkovich’s criminal action to credibly render a charge of espionage, according to its text.

“The Russian Government has wrongfully detained American journalist Evan Gershkovich for six months,” said Sen. Young. “I’m proud to support this bipartisan resolution calling for Evan’s immediate release. Americans are not political pawns, and we must ensure Evan, Paul Whelan, and all other United States citizens return safely home.”

Among the 24 other original cosponsors of S.Res. 385 are U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), John Hoeven (R-ND), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

S.Res. 385 also states that on April 10, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken designated Gershkovich wrongfully detained by the Government of the Russian Federation, and on April 17, the United States was joined by 46 United Nations Member States in a joint statement “expressing deep concern” over Russia’s detention of Gershkovich.

In addition to calling for the American’s release, the resolution would urge all U.S. executive branch officials, including President Joseph Biden, Blinken, and Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens, to raise the case of Gershkovich and to press for his immediate release in all interactions with the Government of the Russian Federation, according to the text of the resolution.

The resolution also would condemn Russia’s continued use of detentions and prosecutions of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents for political purposes, and would call for the immediate release of Whelan, who has been wrongfully detained in Russia since December 2018.