The family of Ivan Gershkovitch, a Wall Street Journal reporter detained in Russia since March, has appealed for UN help in repatriating him, urging world leaders who will soon attend the UN General Assembly to join the appeal. In order to release him.
“Next week, world leaders will meet here to discuss many important issues,” Mr. Gershkovitch’s father, Mikhail, said at a news conference in New York alongside the US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
He called on these leaders to stand with his son, saying that Ivan Gershkovitch represents “the fundamental right to freedom of the press and freedom of expression” and that “these rights are fundamental principles of the United Nations.”
Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said the United States “will not rest until Evan, Paul and all wrongfully detained Americans return home safe and sound,” referring to Paul Whelan, a former Marine serving a 16-year prison sentence for what US officials say are false espionage charges. .
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters that Whelan was able to make a consular visit on Wednesday with US Ambassador to Russia Lynn Tracy. Mr Miller added: “We believe Paul continues to show tremendous courage in the face of his wrongful detention.”
Ivan Gershkovitch’s family said lawyers filed a petition on Tuesday asking a group of United Nations experts to side with the US government and agree that Russia is arbitrarily detaining Ivan Gershkovitch in violation of his human rights.
The petition was submitted to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, a panel of five experts in the field of human rights and international law. The group has previously evaluated the detention of several journalists, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who spent 544 days imprisoned in Iran before being released in a prisoner swap in early 2016.
The UN group has no executive authority, but its decision that Mr. Gershkovitch is arbitrarily detained would increase pressure on Russia, already isolated from the West, to release him.
Mr. Gershkovitch is the first American journalist to be arrested on espionage charges in Russia since the end of the Cold War. The US government considers him to be unjustly detained, and the newspaper has categorically denied the accusations against him.
“If this could happen to my brother, it can happen to any journalist trying to report the news,” Danielle Gershkovitch, Mr. Gershkovitch’s sister, said at the news conference.
His mother, Ella Millman, said she missed her son every day, and that he had joked in letters that the food in the notorious Lefortovo prison where he was held reminded him of her cooking. “We are happy that he has maintained his sense of humor,” she said.
Mr. Gershkovitch’s pretrial detention will extend until at least November 30, a Moscow court ruled last month after a secret proceeding that was closed to the media.
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