Russia denies visit to American reporter in visa retaliation

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday denied a U.S request for a consular visit to Evan Gershkovich, an American reporter for The Wall Street Journal who is jailed on espionage charges.

The ministry said it rejected the request for the May 11 visit in retaliation for the U.S. refusing to grant visas to Russian journalists who planned to accompany Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on a trip to the United Nations.

Gershkovich has been in custody since his March 29 arrest by Russia’s security service on espionage charges that he, his employer and the U.S. government have denied.

Gershkovich is the first U.S. correspondent since the Cold War to be detained in Russia on spying charges, and his arrest rattled journalists in the country and drew outrage in the West.

The United States has declared Gershkovich to be “wrongfully detained” and demanded his immediate release.

The Russian denial of the U.S. request for a consular visit to Gershkovich followed Lavrov warning that Moscow “will not forget and will not forgive” the denial of the visas to Russian journalists.

The Foreign Ministry said Friday it was also considering other retaliatory measures.

“A protest note was presented in connection with the provocative conduct of the U.S. diplomatic mission, which thwarted the issuing of visas to mass media representatives from the press pool of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who were supposed to accompany him on his trip to New York as part of Russia’s presidency of the U.N. Security Council,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“The U.S. Embassy was informed in this connection that its request for consular access to U.S. citizen Gershkovich, detained on suspicion of espionage, on May 11 was declined,” the ministry statement said. “Other possible retaliatory measures, about which the U.S. side will be duly notified, are being considered.”