Brittney Griner says she has “great concern” for Wall Street Journal reporter held in Russia

Basketball superstar Brittney Griner, who was detained in Russia for months, has expressed concern for Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested in that country last week.  

“Our hearts are filled with great concern for Evan Gershkovitch and his family since Evan’s detainment in Russia,” Griner said in a joint statement with her wife, Cherelle, on Saturday. “We must do everything in our power to bring him and all Americans home.” 

“Every American who is taken is ours to fight for and every American returned is a win for us all,” they added. 

Griner was held for months in a prison in Russia before she was released in December in a one-for-one prisoner swap for international arms deal Viktor Bout. The Griners said they were “grateful” for the Biden administration’s “commitment to rescue Americans” and praised the government’s recent efforts to release aid worker Jeff Woodke and “Hotel Rwanda” hero Paul Ruseabagina

The Griners called on supporters to encourage the administration to “use every tool possible to bring Evan and all wrongfully detained Americans home.” 

Russian authorities arrested him charges of spying for Washington, Russia’s FSB security services said Thursday. The FSB security services said they had “halted the illegal activities of U.S. citizen Evan Gershkovich,” saying The Wall Street Journal reporter was “suspected of spying in the interests of the American government.”

The Wall Street Journal said it denies the allegations and is seeking the immediate release of the 31-year-old journalist. On Friday, President Joe Biden urged Russia to “let him go.” 

Wall Street Journal Editor in Chief Emma Tucker told “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan on Sunday that they haven’t be able to communicate with him, but said Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s rare call to his Russian counterpart Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Sunday was “hugely reassuring.” 

“We know that the U.S. government is taking the case very seriously, right up to the top,” Tucker said Sunday. 

For now, their hope is the the U.S. government moves “swiftly” to designate Gershkovich as wrongfully detained. 

“When that happens, it’s an official recognition that the charges against Evan are entirely bogus. And once that official recognition comes, things can then move a bit more rapidly,” she said. 

Gershkovich’s arrest comes as Western journalists in Russia face increasing restrictions. Staff of Western media outlets often report being tailed, particularly during trips outside of major urban hubs of Moscow and Saint Petersburg.