President Joe Biden's administration says the US is still investigating Russia's allegations against a detained Wall Street Journal reporter, but voiced skepticism Thursday over the Kremlin's claim he was spying in the country.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was responding to a question about whether the White House would call journalist Evan Gershkovich's plight a "hostage situation."
"We have been very clear, there's — you know — there's no reason to believe that those charges are accurate, the espionage (charges)," Jean-Pierre said.
Earlier, a White House spokesperson deferred to the US State Department and said officials were still assessing whether the US considers the reporter's arrest a wrongful detention. The Biden administration has, however, condemned the arrest.
In response to a follow-up question, Jean-Pierre said the Kremlin detaining Americans and using them for leverage in negotiations is a familiar tactic.
She also urged US residents to stay out of the country.
"It is not safe for Americans right now in Russia," Jean-Pierre said.
"The State Department is going to continue to reiterate that: It is not safe at this time to be in Russia or to travel in Russia," the press secretary said.