MOSCOW, April 11. /TASS/. The United States has every right to stand up for the rights of its citizens but a decision on punishment will ultimately be made by a Russian court, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday, commenting on the case of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, suspected of espionage.
"I don’t understand what changes this move brings and what it means. In any case, the US has always been able and supposed to defend the rights of its citizens," he told reporters, when asked to comment on the US Department of Justice’s decision to declare Gershkovich wrongfully detained.
Peskov stressed that Gershkovich had been "caught red-handed as he violated the relevant Russian law." "This is what he is suspected of but clearly, the decision will be made in court," the Kremlin spokesman stressed.
US Department of State Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said earlier in a statement that the Department of State believed Gershkovich had been wrongfully detained by Russia, and called on Moscow to immediately release him.
According to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Gershkovich, acting at the US’ behest, collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of Russian defense companies. The reporter was detained in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg. The FSB Investigative Department opened a criminal case against him under Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code ("Espionage"). As Peskov emphasized earlier, the journalist was caught red-handed. On March 30, Moscow’s Lefortovsky District Court ruled that Gershkovich be held in custody until May 29.