U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner, who was freed from a Russian penal colony in a prisoner exchange last year, has urged the Biden administration to keep using “every tool possible” to win the release of U.S. reporter Evan Gershkovich who is accused of spying in Russia.
via: NBC News
“Every American who is taken is ours to fight for and every American returned is a win for us all,” said Griner, who was released in a high-profile prisoner swap after she was jailed in Russia for most of last year.
“Our hearts are filled with great concern” for Gershkovich and his family,” Griner and her wife, Cherelle, said in a statement posted to Instagram late Saturday.
Russian security officials arrested The Wall Street Journal reporter, 31, last week, and plan to detain him for at least two months on spying charges that Gershkovich and the Journal vehemently deny. The newspaper and other media organizations have demanded his release.
His arrest came as tensions between Washington and Moscow deepen over the war in Ukraine and as the Kremlin cracks down on free speech at home. Gershkovich is the first journalist from a U.S. news outlet to be arrested on espionage charges in Russia since the Cold War.
President Joe Biden has urged Moscow to release Gershkovich, telling reporters Friday that his message on the arrest was simply: “Let him go.”
The Biden administration said Thursday it was working to secure U.S. consular access to Gershkovich. Speaking at a news conference in Lusaka, Zambia, Vice President Kamala Harris said that the U.S. was “deeply concerned” about the arrest.
“We will not tolerate — and condemn, in fact — repression of journalists,” Harris said during a weeklong visit to Africa.
In their Instagram statement, the Griners celebrated the Biden administration’s “recent successful efforts” to repatriate other detained Americans such as Jeff Woodke, an aid worker who was held captive in Niger for six years, and Paul Rusesbagina, an American legal resident and human rights worker who was imprisoned for more than two years in Rwanda.
The Griners called on their supporters to “encourage” the administration to do everything possible to bring wrongfully detained Americans home.