The Executive Board of the International Press Institute (IPI), including Nobel Peace Prize winning journalist Maria Ressa, has today written a letter to Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter currently behind bars in a Moscow prison on bogus espionage charges. Read the full letter below.

Dear Evan,

We hope the Lefortovo prison and its wards are treating you well, to the extent that this is possible. We are trying to picture your cell and hope that you are not disturbed too much by the prison’s daily routine and the sub-par food which is probably served there.

The members of the International Press Institute (IPI) global network were shocked to hear of your detention, and later arrest early on Friday morning, as the news first broke among independent Russian journalists, and then in Western media. IPI members are leading editors, publishers, and journalists from all corners of the globe who share a commitment to independent journalism – we do our jobs and fight for the truth to be heard, just as you continued to do over the past years in Russia, despite the odds.

And, sadly, journalists around the world continue to be detained, arrested and prosecuted on charges which have nothing in common with their actual activities. The IPI global network supports those who, like you, have been targeted by the machinery of repression worldwide. 

Please know that we, and so many others, are working for your release and to ensure respect for your well-being and your access to legal support. 

Just a few weeks ago, it was unthinkable that foreign correspondents accredited to work in Russia would be detained and arrested, then accused of espionage, just like that. But just like with any other “odd normality”, many of which continue to exist in Russia despite the increasingly freedom-stifling atmosphere, and which you pictured so vividly in your report on parties in Moscow last June, the fact that foreign journalists were able to travel Russia and report on nearly any topic stood out as something not fitting into the new reality imposed by authorities. Like so many other of these paradoxes, this “normality” has now disappeared, as others did before it. Just like independent Russian media, wiped out a little over a year ago for violating new Russian legislation on news about the “special military operation” in Ukraine.

After your arrest, many foreign journalists in Russia no longer feel safe. For those who chose to stay after what happened to you, their world has changed, disappeared. And no one knows what will come next. Slowly, authorities are getting everyone used to more and more limitations on their personal freedom. There are many things left to ban and outlaw, so many people to designate as “undesirable” or “foreign agents”.

But enough about sadness. Though we imagine it’s hard to think about anything else in a prison cell, interacting mainly with wards imposing a daily routine and speaking in phrases straight from Russia’s criminal code. One day, we are sure, this situation will change. You will be released and allowed to return home – that is our first priority. There will be nothing odd in Russian and foreign journalists doing their jobs, be it in Russia or anywhere else in the world. Eventually, trust and truth will prevail over darkness and fear. And, on a lighter note, reporters will again be able to live, work and have fun in Moscow.

But, for now, please trust that we will continue to advocate for you, and others behind bars like you, or those forced into exile from Russia or other countries. We will not forget and we will not give up.

We want you to know that the members of the IPI global network are behind you. We will continue to raise our voice for your release, and for that of all journalists in Russia, and everywhere else in the world, unjustly imprisoned for doing their jobs.

Stay strong and look to the future. We are with you.


Signed (members and special advisor of the IPI Executive Board):

Raheem Adedoyin, Chairman, Editorial Board, Herald Newspapers, Nigeria

Zaffar Abbas, Editor, Dawn newspaper, Pakistan

Walid Batrawi, Media and communications expert, Palestine

Ole Kristian Bjellaanes, Sports Editor, Norsk Telegrambyra (NTB), Norway

John Daniszewski, Vice President, Standards, Editor at Large, The Associated Press, USA

Márton Gergely, Editor-in-Chief, HVG, Hungary

Stephen Gitagama, Group CEO, Nation Media Group, Kenya

Emre Kizilkaya, Project editor,, Turkey

Riyad Mathew, Chief Associate Editor & Director, Malayala Manorama & The Week, India

Paula Miraglia, Founder and Editor, Nexo, Brazil

Amelia Newcomb, Managing Editor, The Christian Science Monitor, USA

Kaius Niemi, Former Senior Editor-in-Chief, Helsingin Sanomat, Sanoma Media, Finland

Khadija Patel, Head of Programmes, International Fund for Public Interest Media, South Africa

Elizaveta Osetinskaya, Journalist and media manager, founder, The Bell, Russia

Maria Ressa, CEO, Rappler, Philippines

Bjørn Sæbø, Editor-in-Chief, Rogalands Avis, Norway

Hiroki Sugita, Columnist and Associate Executive Director, Kyodo News, Japan