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House passes resolution calling on Putin to release reporter Gershkovich and others

There is no evidence against Gershkovich, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said on the House floor.

President Joe Biden applauds as an image of U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich appears onscreen during the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in April.
President Joe Biden applauds as an image of U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich appears onscreen during the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in April. (Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images)

The House unanimously passed a resolution late Tuesday calling on Russia to immediately release Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who has been detained since March.

The resolution also urges the Biden administration to press for Gershkovich’s release in “all interactions” with Russia and would provide the journalist with full consular access. Gershkovich, 31, had lived in Russia for six years at the time of his arrest and was covering the Ukraine war for the Wall Street Journal’s Moscow bureau when he was detained and charged with espionage.

“No evidence has been presented to back up this accusation, because there is no evidence. Evan is innocent,” Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who introduced the resolution, said on the House floor Monday. “He was simply doing his job reporting on the news in Russia. But we know that the war criminal Putin doesn’t like that. He doesn’t want his own people to know about atrocities that he is committing in Ukraine. He doesn’t want them to know about the corruption within his own government. Or how he has turned their country into an international pariah.”

According to McCaul, Putin arrested Gershkovich to silence him and other journalists.

McCaul’s resolution also calls for the immediate release of Paul Whelan, 53, a former U.S. Marine who was arrested in 2018 on spying charges and convicted in 2020. Whelan is serving a 16-year prison sentence.

The State Department has designated Gershkovitz and Whelan “wrongfully detained.” The Biden administration in April imposed sanctions on the leading security services in both Russia and Iran for the wrongful detention of Americans. 

“We are working every day to secure his release, looking at opportunities and tools to bring him home,” President Joe Biden said in April at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.

Members of Congress have broadly condemned Russia for the detention of Gershkovich. But Tuesday’s vote marked the first time that either chamber has officially called for his release.

“The Putin regime is increasingly brazen and using political detentions to seek leverage over the Biden administration,” McCaul said. “It must be made clear that the use of American citizens as political pawns will not go unpunished. These Americans deserve to be home with their families instead of in Russian prisons.”

The resolution also expresses support for all American citizens and lawful permanent residents detained in Russia and abroad. The resolution names Marc Fogel, an American school teacher sentenced to 14 years in prison after allegedly trying to enter Russia with 0.6 ounces of marijuana, and Vladimir Kara-Murza, an activist and journalist who was sentenced to 25 years in prison in April for disobeying police orders and “discrediting” the military.

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