Moscow’s Lefortovo Prison. For almost one year now, this has been the home of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who is being held on charges of espionage.

Lefortovo is known as one of the most secret prisons in Russia. It is notorious as a place of arrest for high-level personalities detained by Russian authorities on politically motivated charges. Prisoners sent there are typically investigated by the FSB, one of Russia’s most powerful secret services.

In just one moment in March 2023, Evan’s life changed from that of an active reporter to that of a simple prisoner at Lefortovo. One year later, Russian investigators have still produced no proof justifying the charges against him. Instead, they have regularly extended Evan’s pre-trial detention. If convicted, he faces between 10 and 20 years in prison.

While a prisoner exchange with the United States was on the table since Evan was first arrested, the prospect of his release still seems further away than ever.

The IPI global network continues to advocate for his release. Together with other press freedom groups and international media, we demanded that Russian authorities set Evan free, sent him a letter to Lefortovo, spoke to his friends and continuously kept his case at the forefront of our activities by highlighting any updates in the criminal case opened against him.

In this new episode of The Press Freedom Files, published to mark the one-year anniversary of Evan’s arrest, we speak to Polina Ivanova, a correspondent for FT who covers Russia, Ukraine, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Together with Gershkovich, she covered the region for several years from Moscow, prior to his arrest.

In a moving testimony, Polina recounts Evan’s work, his life, and what it was like to see him behind bars over the past year.

Guest: Polina Ivanova, Russia, Ukraine, Caucasus and Central Asia correspondent at FT.

Producer and Host: Karol Łuczka, Eastern Europe Advocacy and Monitoring Officer at IPI.

Editor: Javier Luque, Head of Digital Communications at IPI.

Related links:

Interview: Foreign correspondents still in shock after Gershkovich arrest
IPI sends letter to imprisoned WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich
IPI, partner organizations and international media call on Russia to release WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich