The leaders of more than 30 news organizations around the world signed a letter Thursday to the Russian ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, demanding the release of imprisoned Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.
“Gershkovich is a journalist, not a spy, and should be released immediately and without conditions,” said the letter, spearheaded by the Committee to Protect Journalists, which was made public Friday.
The letter was signed by the leaders of the Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the BBC, TIME, Euronews, Bloomberg News, Sky News, The New Yorker, and The Economist, among many others.
“Gershkovich’s unwarranted and unjust arrest is a significant escalation in your government’s anti-press actions,” the letter said. “Russia is sending the message that journalism within your borders is criminalized and that foreign correspondents seeking to report from Russia do not enjoy the benefits of the rule of law.”
A representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists told CNN that the group had not received a response by Friday afternoon.
Gershkovich was arrested in Russia on suspicion of espionage, the first time a US journalist has been detained on accusations by Moscow of spying since the Cold War.
In a Thursday statement, The Wall Street Journal said it “vehemently denies the allegations from the FSB and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter.”
Almar Latour, the CEO of Dow Jones, which publishes The Wall Street Journal, condemned Russia’s arrest of Gershkovich in a memo to staffers Thursday, saying the company is working “around the clock” to secure his release.
“This is an incredibly disturbing development,” Latour said in a memo to staff obtained by CNN.