'Journalism is not a crime': Bipartisan House leadership demands Putin release detained Americans

'Journalism is not a crime': Bipartisan House leadership demands Putin release detained Americans
Evan Gershkovich, Image via Screengrab/NBC

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) are demanding Russian president Vladimir Putin immediately release two American citizens — Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and businessman Paul Whelan.

HuffPost reports the House leaders released a joint statement Thursday, May 4, calling on the Russian leader to free the pair, who are both being held on espionage charges.

According to the WSJ, McCarthy and Jeffries' statement comes after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) distributed a statement last month writing they both "strongly condemn the wrongful detention" of Gershkovich, adding Russia also "continues to wrongfully detain" Whelan.

READ MORE: 'Need to stand firm': New York Times editorial board calls for immediate release of WSJ reporter

Gershkovich was captured earlier this year, while Whelan has been imprisoned since 2018.

"The persecution of Gershkovich is part of a disturbing practice by Putin's Russia of kidnapping American citizens and using Soviet-style show trials to unjustly imprison them," the lawmakers wrote, according to WSJ. "Today, the Kremlin not only holds Gershkovich hostage, it continues to unjustly imprison Paul Whelan."

The congressmen continued, "We strongly condemn Russia's ongoing and illegal detention of journalist Evan Gershkovich and call for his immediate release. Since arresting Evan five weeks ago, Russia has failed to provide any credible evidence to justify its manufactured charges."

Regarding the WSJ journalist's arrest, the statement emphasized, "Journalism is not a crime, and his detention is another deeply concerning attack on freedom of the press across the globe."

READ MORE: Why the KGB’s 1986 arrest of an American correspondent in Moscow is still relevant in 2023

HuffPost's full report is available at this link. The Wall Street Journal's report is here (subscription required).

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