US Announces Sanctions on Russia Over Detainment of WSJ Reporter

US Imposes Sanctions on Russia and Iran Over Wrongful Detentions of Americans

The United States has announced sanctions against Russia’s security service, the FSB, for the wrongful detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. The Biden administration has also imposed sanctions against Iran for wrongfully detaining Americans.

Threat to International Political System and Safety of US Nationals

A senior administration official told reporters that these actions by Russia and Iran threaten the stability and integrity of the international political system and the safety of US nationals and other persons abroad.

The FSB has repeatedly been involved in the arrest, investigation, and detention of US nationals wrongfully detained in Russia. Russia’s state-owned media outlets have publicly acknowledged the FSB’s involvement in the arrest and investigation of wrongfully detained US nationals.

The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post have published a joint ad in their print editions urging support from the US government, including President Joe Biden and the White House, for Gershkovich’s release.

Wrongfully Detained Reporter

Gershkovich, 31, was arrested on March 29 on spying charges and is being held in a Russian prison. Moscow has denied him US consular services. The State Department has labeled Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained,” allowing greater government resources to be allocated toward securing his release.

“We continue to be shocked and outraged over the wrongful arrest of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who is imprisoned by the Russian government for no other reason than newsgathering,” the media organizations stated. “Reporting is not a crime.”

Sanctions Against Iran’s IRGCIO

The sanctions against Iran would target the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Intelligence Organization (IRGCIO) for the wrongful detainment of US nationals. The IRGCIO frequently holds and interrogates detainees, including at least one wrongfully detained US national in Evin Prison. Evin Prison has a long and sordid history of human rights abuses, including extensive reports of torture.

The official also announced that four IRGCIO leaders would be sanctioned for their roles in wrongful detentions.

“Today’s sanctions are one of a series of efforts, some public like this, some private, to secure the release of US nationals wrongfully held overseas to promote accountability for the culprits,” the official said. “And by doing so, to prevent and deter the next set of cases from arising in the first place.”

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