The family of imprisoned Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich provided an update on their son’s condition, six months after he was detained in Russia on espionage charges.
In an interview with CNN’s “AC360” broadcast on Thursday, a day ahead of the six-month anniversary, Ella Milman and Mikhail Gershkovich said they have visited him in prison twice so far, most recently in June.
“Being there, it was like having him back,” his father said. “Of course, it also made us very sad leaving, because we couldn’t take him with us.”
Milman said Gershkovich is “doing really well” under the circumstances.
“He’s kind of defiant,” she said. “He hasn’t done anything wrong. He’s smiling, he understands what’s going on.”
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Gershkovich, who the U.S. considers wrongfully detained, was captured by Russia’s Federal Security Service in Yekaterinburg in late March. He is the first U.S. journalist to be arrested in Russia on espionage charges since the Cold War.
Gershkovich, the Journal and the U.S. government have all denied the charges.
The American journalist last appeared in court on Sept. 19 for a hearing on his appeal to be released from prison, but the court declined to hear his case and sent it to a lower court, meaning Gershkovich will likely remain in custody until at least Nov. 30, the date his pretrial detention expires.
John Kirby, National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, last week said “it could be potentially tough” to secure his release.
Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators has introduced a resolution calling on Russia to “immediately” free Gershkovich.
Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a courtroom at the Moscow City Court, in Moscow on Sept. 19, 2023.
His sister, Danielle Gershkovich, said the family is now able to keep in touch with him through letters they exchange “about once a week.”
“It’s just so nice,” she said. “I hear his voice in my head when I read them. It just feels like we get to talk.”
Gershkovich’s parents both fled the Soviet Union and migrated to the U.S.
Milman said they weren’t initially alarmed when Gershkovich started reporting in Russia six years ago.
″Things changed a lot since he started,” she said. “He came to Russia in 2017. Things were a lot different at the time.”
She added that Gershkovich remains an American boy at heart. He’d always seek comfort food like hamburgers and buffalo wings upon return from his foreign reporting trips.
“He’s an American boy who has roots in Russian culture,” she added.
Dow Jones, the parent company of the Journal, has been working to keep his captivity in the headlines, and plans a “social media storm” at 10:30 a.m. Friday to push for his release.