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Accusations of spying in Russia directed towards Wall Street Journal journalist

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American journalist Ivan Gershkovich was formally charged with espionage in Russia on Friday, according to Russian news agencies.

“The FSB investigators accused Gershkovich of spying for his country’s interests. He categorically denied all accusations and stated that he was involved in journalistic activities in Russia,” said the Russian state news agency TASS, citing a law enforcement source.

The arrest of Wall Street Journal reporter Gershkovitch sparked outrage from the media and rights groups, as well as government officials in Washington.

Gershkovitch’s arrest is seen as a dangerous escalation of Moscow’s crackdown on the media. Its publication, one of the most prestigious newspapers in the United States, “vehemently denies the allegations” against its “trusted and loyal reporter”.

The case is classified classified, which limits the amount of information available. His arrest also comes as Moscow’s relations with Washington have deteriorated sharply over the attack on Ukraine.

Washington has long accused Moscow of arbitrarily detaining Americans in order to secure the release of detained Russians.

US President Joe Biden called for Gershkovitch’s release on Friday and the White House called the charges against him “ridiculous”.

On Thursday, Russia said it was “futile” to try to pressure Moscow over the issue.

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