- Evan Gershkovich was detained by Russia’s Federal Security Service under espionage charges.
- The US has called Russia’s imprisonment of Gershkovich “totally illegal”.
- A court ordered Gershkovich to remain in custody until the end of May while investigations were ongoing.
The parents of detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich on Friday said that they remained optimistic for a positive outcome to his detention insisting that their son “still loved Russia.”
“It’s one of the American qualities that we absorbed, you know, be optimistic, believe in a happy ending,” Gershkovich’s mother, Ella Milman told the Wall Street Journal, speaking out for the first time since his arrest.
“But I am not stupid. I understand what’s involved, but that’s what I choose to believe,” she added.
Ella and her husband Mikhail Gershkovich fled the Soviet Union separately in 1979 and settled in New Jersey, raising their two children, Evan and a daughter Danielle.
The spying charges against Gershkovich, who had previously worked for the Moscow bureau of AFP, are the first of their kind in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union, prompting an outcry from media outlets, rights groups and foreign governments.
In the video interview, Milman said that Evan, 31, felt a responsibility to stay in Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, one of the few remaining Western journalists to continue reporting in Moscow despite the dangers.
“I know that he felt like it was his duty to report… He loves Russian people. He still does,” she said.
Milman said that she thought some of her son’s recent reporting on the inner deliberations inside President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin caught the attention of authorities.
“The article that came out about Putin in December got me worried a lot,” she added.
Russian officials insist Gershkovich was “caught red-handed” when he was detained in Yekaterinburg in late March, some 1 800 kilometers (1 100 miles) east of Moscow.
He has since been held in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison where he has yet to be granted consular access, with Moscow saying the question is still under review.
President Joe Biden on Tuesday called Russia’s imprisonment of Gershkovich on spying charges “totally illegal” and told his family he was working for a release.