Accredited foreign journalists can continue to work in Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday after the arrest of Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal.
His comments came in response to a question about an article published Thursday by The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, which reads: “The Biden Administration will have to consider diplomatic and political escalation.”
“Expelling the Russian ambassador to the US, as well as all Russian journalists working here, would be the least we could hope for. The US government’s first duty is to protect its citizens, and too many governments now believe that they can detain and imprison Americans with impunity,” he said.
Peskov was asked “how likely” it is that Russian journalists and the Russian ambassador will be expelled from the United States.
“All foreign journalists who have a valid accreditation here can and do continue their journalistic activities in our country. They do not face any restrictions and work well,” Peskov replied.
“In this case, we are talking about espionage activities under the guise of journalistic activities. Since this journalist was caught red-handed, the situation is obvious,” he added.
The Wall Street Journal categorically rejected those accusations, saying in a statement Thursday that it “vehemently denies the FSB’s allegations and calls for the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter.”
Peskov continued: “In this sense, to demand the expulsion of all Russian journalists… Well, the newspaper can do it, but this should not be the case. There is simply no reason for it. If there is any violation of the law, going beyond the scope of activities provided by law, yes. But it would be absurd and wrong to restrict the rights of conscientious journalists.”
He again reiterated that he could not expand the accusation of him “red-handed”, saying: “We do not have detailed information, it is classified. The FSB is taking care of it.”
The White House called the allegation of Russian spying “ludicrous.”