Friday marks 100 days that Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has been detained by Russia during a reporting trip and accused of espionage, making him the first American journalist held by the Kremlin on such charges since the Cold War.

“Every day that Evan isn’t home is another day too many. We miss our son and will not stop until he is free. We are so appreciative of all the support from around the world. It’s overwhelming, and we are grateful,” Gershkovich’s family said in a statement Friday.

“It’s hard to believe Evan is coming up on 100 days,” Lucian Kim, a friend of Gershkovich and former NPR Moscow correspondent, told Fox News Digital. “I think of him every day, in that jail cell in one of Moscow’s most notorious prisons, a young journalist now accused of espionage just because he tried to tell the story of Russia — a country we know less and less about.”

“At the same time, I know Evan to be an immensely positive person, and I think the knowledge that so many people on the outside are supporting him helps him a lot. I’ve had limited communications with Evan. But I have let him know that he has many, many friends who are waiting until the day he walks free.”

EVAN GERSHKOVICH’S FRIENDS REACT TO BIPARTISAN RESOLUTION DEMANDING RUSSIA LET HIM GO: ‘WE WILL NOT REST’

Gershkovich was detained March 29 in Yekaterinburg, the fourth-largest city in Russia, and accused of being a spy. The United States has all along asserted that Russia’s allegation that Gershkovich is ridiculous on its face, as have his colleagues, who describe the 31-year-old, American-born son of Soviet immigrants as a diligent reporter who is being used as a political pawn due to his high profile. 

The Wall Street Journal and the U.S. government vehemently deny the allegation and have called for his immediate release. His arrest is seen as a brazen violation of press freedom that not only poses widespread consequences for journalism and the media, but to governments and democracies everywhere, and part of a wider journalism crackdown by the autocratic Russian Federation.

“Today is a poignant milestone in our ongoing fight to free Evan Gershkovich. It is also a painful reminder of the urgency we all feel to ensure he’s released as soon as possible,” said Wall Street Journal Editor in Chief Emma Tucker and Almar Latour, the Journal’s publisher and the CEO of Dow Jones. “For the past 100 days, we have been deeply moved by the outpouring of support from around the world, including the journalism community and defenders of free press everywhere. It has never been more important to have reporters like Evan covering stories like Russia. We must now keep his own story front and center.”

They continued, “We continue to work closely with the highest levels of the U.S. government and expect they will vigorously pursue all efforts to free Evan. Journalism is not a crime, and we continue to call on the Russian government to release him immediately. We will not rest until he’s free.”

Financial Times reporter Polina Ivanova, a close friend of Gershkovich, said she and several of Evan’s friends would meet up in Berlin to mark the grim milestone in their “Free Evan” t-shirts provided by the Wall Street Journal.

“It’s hard to imagine what 100 days really means,” she told Fox News Digital. “It’s hard to imagine Evan in those circumstances for 100 days. It’s a hugely long time to be alone, to be cut off from your friends and family and work and the whole rest of the world.”

Gershkovich has been able to receive messages from friends and supporters that are screened by Russia, and he’s kept busy by reading during his detainment, Ivanova said.

In April, less than two weeks after he was detained, the U.S. officially designated him “wrongfully detained” by Russia. The designation allowed his case to be specially handled by the State Department’s Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs and signified that he is viewed officially as a political prisoner and not a legitimate detainee of Russia.

Hugh Dugan, who served as acting Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs during the Trump administration, told Fox News Digital that Russia is no hurry and can continue to use its leverage by slowing down the legal process against Gershkovich. He faces decades in a Russian prison if convicted of the charges, which would be a near-certainty according to experts.

“The cost of holding him is not so high. We haven’t made it expensive enough to keep holding him. The consequences on them have not been severe enough or don’t appear to be severe enough,” Dugan said.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said journalism is not a crime and condemned the Kremlin’s “continued repression of independent voices in Russia, and its ongoing war against the truth.”

The Wall Street Journal has been deeply moved by the ongoing global support Gershkovich, known for his on-the-ground journalism that put a spotlight on issues inside President Vladimir Putin’s country, has received and has vowed to “not rest until Evan is released.” 

The paper has encouraged supporters to share Gershkovich’s journalism and latest updates on his situation by visiting WSJ.com/Evan. Readers can also access media assets and images such as #IStandWithEvan profile photos, banners and cover images to be used across social media. The WSJ also allows readers to write a message to Evan and his family.

DETAINED WSJ REPORTER EVAN GERSHKOVICH’S COLLEAGUES SPEAK OUT ON HIS PASSION FOR JOURNALISM, RUSSIA Friday marks 100 days that Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has been detained by Russia during a reporting trip and dubiously accused of espionage. (Fox News) Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a courtroom at the Moscow City Court, in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, April 18, 2023.

Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution calling on Russia to immediately free Gershkovich. The vote was 422-0 in favor of the resolution. 

“We applaud the latest show of bipartisan support from Congress in the fight for Evan’s release. His wrongful detention is a blow to press freedom, and it should matter to anyone who values free society,” WSJ editor-in-chief Emma Tucker and publisher Almar Latour said in a joint statement. 

“We will not rest until he is free,” they continued. 

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR EVAN GERSHKOVICH President Joe Biden gestures as an image of Evan Gershkovich appears onscreen during the White House Correspondents Association dinner at the Washington Hilton in Washington, DC, April 29, 2023.

The Kremlin on Tuesday addressed the potential of a prisoner swap with the United States for Gershkovich, a day after the U.S. ambassador to Moscow was permitted to visit the journalist held at the notorious Lefortovo Prison for the first time since April. 

On a call with reporters Tuesday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov was asked whether Monday’s consular visits to Gershkovich and Vladimir Dunaev, a Russian citizen in U.S. custody on cybercrime charges, could potentially herald a prisoner swap. 

“We have said that there have been certain contacts on the subject, but we don’t want them to be discussed in public,” Peskov said of discussions between Russian and U.S. officials. “They must be carried out and continue in complete silence.”

Dugan said on the heels of the Wagner mercenary group’s incursion into Moscow, Putin could ill afford to look weak and not get a handsome ransom for Gershkovich in a future prisoner exchange. In the meantime, he said the U.S. needed to demonstrate strength towards a “bully” and make the price high to try to prevent future seizings of American citizens.

“Taking a hostage is tantamount to its own war, so to speak, one small battlefield, one person the prize,” Dugan said. “This is warfare and very serious escalation of the Russians toward us, and I’m not saying we do a tit for that and take one of them. We don’t play that game.”

[Whether] it’s sanctions or robust display of some type of military [force], our administration needs to get into the mindset of that regime as it is today and find out what will make their hair stand on the back of their necks while maintaining our adherence to civilized discourse among countries,” he said.

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