Russia says US journalist still not granted consular access

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 24, 2021, shows US journalist Evan Gershkovich. Moscow has formally charged US journalist Evan Gershkovich with espionage, Russian news agencies reported April 7, 2023, adding he denied the accusations.—AFP/file
(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 24, 2021, shows US journalist Evan Gershkovich. Moscow has formally charged US journalist Evan Gershkovich with espionage, Russian news agencies reported April 7, 2023, adding he denied the accusations.—AFP/file 

MOSCOW: Russia’s deputy foreign minister acknowledged Wednesday that detained US reporter Evan Gershkovich had not been granted consular access, two weeks after his arrest.

The Wall Street Journal journalist was arrested in Russia on claims of espionage, which he denies.

The US State Department has said it has sought consular access to Gershkovich since learning of his arrest.

“The question (of consular access) is under review,” the deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, was cited as saying by state-run agencies.

“We are acting in accordance with our laws, taking into account consular conventions of course,” Ryabkov said.

“We won’t tolerate any attempts to put pressure” on Russia, he added.

On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden declared Gershkovich’s imprisonment “illegal” after the State Department classified the reporter as “wrongfully detained”.

Ryabkov said that “for us, the status assigned in Washington does not matter”.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova slammed the “hype by US officials and Western media around Gershkovich”.

The arrest of Gershkovich, 31, on March 29 caused outrage and is seen as a serious escalation of Moscow’s crackdown on the media.

Russia has classified his case as “secret”, which limits the information available on it.

Gershkovich, who has been reporting from Russia for six years, was arrested during a reporting trip to Yekaterinburg, a city in the Urals.

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