A Fight for Freedom: The Story of Evan Gershkovich

By: Emily Goldberg  |  December 21, 2023

By Emily Goldberg, Publication Manager and Layout Editor 

Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.” – Walter Cronkite.

Have editors and reporters forgotten about Evan Gershkovich? Evan, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, was arrested while covering stories in Russia more than 250 days ago. Journalists in the U.S. and across the globe must prioritize and bring attention to his story.

Evan Gershkovich is the ultimate testament to the bravery of journalists who continue to write on the side of truth even in the face of danger. Because of journalists like him, we have the liberty to wake up every day and read the news. Only because of persistent journalists like Evan, who aspire to attain justice.

Therefore, it is not only our responsibility to speak up for Evan; it is our duty as citizens of democracy. Unfortunately, Evan’s story has gotten lost amongst the chaos of other world events. Despite the importance of the many other current events being broadcast, Evan’s story must be more prominently told. It is time for him to be freed.

Evan Gershkovich was reporting on the Russian-Ukrainian war when he was detained in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on false accusations of espionage. Ever since, The Wall Street Journal has been working tirelessly to bring Evan home. The Wall Street Journal emphasized that Evan “had full press credentials from Russia’s foreign ministry” and “Evan, his family, the Journal and the U.S. government vehemently deny these allegations” as they “continue to demand Evan’s immediate release.”

Evan began writing for The Wall Street Journal in January, 2022. The Wall Street Journal and other news outlets appreciate Evan and his work because he is “a gifted journalist who has reported extensively on Russia, illuminating developments on the ground at a crucial time.” Despite the fact that numerous journalists left Russia when the war broke out, Evan continued to report from Russia because he understood the importance of reporting on the ground.

An article published in The Wall Street Journal describes the frightening realities Evan faced during his time in Russia. “On one assignment, Mr. Gershkovich was followed by several Russian security officers, some of whom recorded his movements with a camera” and “he assumed his phone was monitored.” Despite these frightening encounters, Evan continued to write because he “just [wanted] to get the story right.”

“‘Reporting on Russia is now also a regular practice of watching people you know get locked away for years,’ [Evan] tweeted in July.” Evan’s statement, and his continued imprisonment, represent a flawed ideology and are antithetical to the foundations of democracy on which we as Americans have the luxury to rely.

The freedom of the press is a privilege of democratic societies. As Thomas Jefferson once stated, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” Evan is facing the unjustifiable hardships that every journalist, especially those working in non-democratic environments, face with courage. Indeed, being a journalist requires risks worth taking, because as journalists, our existence upholds the ideals of democracy. Unjustly locking Evan in jail will not eliminate all journalists who hold societies to account. It will not render journalists more fearful or silent. As citizens of a democratic nation, we have an obligation to fight and bring Evan home, because for every minute that he is detained, the threat to democracy continues to triumph.

Journalism requires bravery. It is the passion of the strong-willed, those with a fire burning inside them, eager to persevere no matter the cost. Journalists must have the courage to look the tyrant in the eye and write against them while pursuing the vision of a better tomorrow.

Where is our bravery now, when it is needed most?

It is our turn to channel that inner bravery of the journalist and fight for Evan’s freedom, the freedom that, because of him, we have the comfort of enjoying. Because, without freedom of speech, without freedom of the press, without democracy, anyone of us could be Evan.