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Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has been detained for 100 days. His Philadelphia-based parents are staying hopeful.

Ella and Mikhail Gershkovich, parents of journalist Evan Gershkovich arrive for the White House Correspondents' Association dinner at the Washington Hilton in Washington, DC, April 29, 2023. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

The Philadelphia-based parents of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich said they remain optimistic about bringing their son home 100 days into his imprisonment in Moscow.

Gershkovich’s parents, Ella Milman and Mikhail Gershkovich, who live in the Fishtown area, told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published Friday that they are writing letters to their son and got to see him briefly at a court appearance in Moscow in June. They talked to him as he stood inside a glass box.

“Seeing him brought a little bit back to me,” Mikhail Gershkovich told the Wall Street Journal. “Physical closeness made it a little bit more bearable. He seemed well. He seemed in good spirits. He was smiling. He seemed to be happy to see us as well.”

Their representative, U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, called the 100-day mark a “grim occasion,” in a statement on Friday.

“For the past several months, Evan’s parents, who are my constituents, have been robbed of the ability to spend time with their son,” Boyle said. “Evan could have been home in Philadelphia for Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, graduation parties, or many of life’s other celebrations and family occasions. But that opportunity was taken away as a result of the Kremlin’s lies and allegations as it continues to wrongfully hold Evan hostage.”

Gershkovich, 31, was arrested on a reporting trip in Moscow in March on charges of espionage, which Gershkovich’s lawyer and the Wall Street Journal have vehemently denied.

In their interview with the Journal, Gershkovich’s mother said she’s hopeful that President Joe Biden will deliver on his promise to try to bring her son home. The parents and their daughter attended the White House Correspondent’s dinner in April, where Biden told them: “Everyone in this hall stands with you.”

“He’s an American boy,” Milman said. “Bringing him back is a team effort.”

Gershkovich isn’t the only American the government is trying to bring home. Marine Corps veteran Paul Whelan is four years into a 16-year prison sentence on espionage charges.

Gershkovich’s parents fled the Soviet Union in 1979 and met while working in New York. They moved to New Jersey, where they raised Gershkovich and his sister, Danielle, teaching them Russian language and traditions and taking them on a family trip to Russia in 1999. That upbringing sparking Gershkovich’s interest in the country he would go on to cover as a journalist.

Gershkovich, who lived and worked as a reporter in Russia for the last six years, started at the Journal in January 2022, a month before Russian invaded Ukraine.

Russian investigators alleged Gershkovich, acting on instructions of Americans, was “trying to obtain secret information” at the time of his arrest. He pleaded not guilty and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

According to the WSJ, Gershkovich was working on a story about Yevgeny Prigozhin, who leads a Russian mercenary military organization, and just last month led a brief rebellion against the Russian government.

“I know that he felt like it was his duty to report,” Milman said.

In an April interview with the Journal, she said hope is an “American quality” she’s absorbed. “Be optimistic. Believe in happy ending. That’s where we stand right now, but I am not stupid. I understand what’s involved, but that’s what I choose to believe.”


© 2023 The Philadelphia Inquirer, LLC

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