Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich tells family he's 'not losing hope' in letter after arrest in Russia | The Sun

JAILED journo Evan Gershkovich has told his family he is "not losing hope" after being arrested in Russia on espionage charges.

The well-respected Wall Street Journal reporter, 31, was captured by Vladimir Putin's secret police on March 29 – yet Russian officials are yet to provide any evidence to back up their claims.

Mr Gershkovich faces 20 years in a penal colony if found guilty.

In a handwritten letter to his family back in Philadelphia, the US journalist joked about prison food and said he was reading and exercising, reports the WSJ.

It read: "I want to say that I am not losing hope.

"I read. I exercise. And I am trying to write. Maybe, finally, I am going to write something good.

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"Mum, you unfortunately, for better or worse, prepared me well for jail food.

"In the morning, for breakfast, they give us hot creamed wheat, oatmeal cereal or wheat gruel. I am remembering my childhood."

The letter, dated April 5 and written in Russian, is the first correspondence he has had with his family since his arrest.

He addressed it to his "dear family", his mother Ella Milman, dad Mikhail – who fled the Soviet Union – and sister Danieelle.

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Speaking to the WSJ on Friday, his mum, 66, said they felt "great joy" receiving the letter.

She said: "These are my son’s words, not someone else telling me. And his spirit is shining."

In the letter, Mr Gershkovich also told how he had received a care package from friends filled with toiletries, clothes and pens.

He wrote: "I now have more clothes and stuff than mum and dad at home, I think."

The WSJ has vehemently denied the charges and published an article on how the country he loved had turned against him.

His arrest was also strongly condemned by journalists globally who have been showing their support with the hashtag #IStandWithEvan on Twitter.

It comes after the US State Department demanded Russia free the captured reporter who was "wrongfully" detained by Putin's spies.

Spokesman Vedant Patel said: "Journalism is not a crime.

"We call for the Russian Federation to immediately release Mr Gershkovich."

He said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken "made a determination that Evan Gershkovich is wrongfully detained by Russia".

Mr Patel added: "We condemn the Kremlin's continued repression of independent voices in Russia, and its ongoing war against the truth."

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Monday: "He doesn’t belong there. He needs to be released. He’s a journalist, not a criminal.

"And it doesn’t mean that we aren’t going to continue to follow this case as closely as we can. We still don’t have consular access and we’re also trying to get that.”

Gershkovich, 31, was detained on March 29 and accused of espionage while reporting in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, about 800 miles east of Moscow.

His arrest is the first of a US journalist by Russia since 1986 before the end of the Cold War.

Mr Gershkovich is being held at the Lefortovo Prison, a pretrial detention centre run by the FSB, Russia's secret police.

Russia has responded to the international outcry by doubling down on its claims.

A Kremlin spokesman said that Gershkovich had "violated" Russian law.

The WSJ said it lost touch with the reporter in Yekaterinburg on March 28.

Russia's security service said it had halted "illegal activities" by detaining the journalist.

Press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders said he had gone to the city to cover Putin's private army, the Wagner Group of Russian mercenaries which has been engaged in fierce fighting in eastern Ukraine.

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Russia has not granted US consular officials access to Mr Gershkovich, in violation of international law.

Last week the Russian foreign ministry accused the US of making a "fuss" about the case to try and "pressure" Russian authorities.

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