Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

MoA – Journalist, Spy Or Cyber Front Warrior?

Posted by M. C. on April 5, 2023

Would the Wall Street Journal even know if the CIA hired one of its journos for a side job?

But fear not, the CIA would never do such:

Journalist, Spy Or Cyber Front Warrior?

Last Thursday, March 30, Russian authorities arrested the Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershovitch:

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) claimed that Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was “acting on instructions from the American side to collect information about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex that constitutes a state secret.” Gershkovich, who was arrested in the city of Yekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains region, will be held until at least May 29, according to Russian judicial officials.

The Wall Street Journal said it “vehemently denies” the allegation and demanded that Russia release Gershkovich, who has lived in Moscow for six years and was accredited by Russia’s foreign ministry. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

Would the Wall Street Journal even know if the CIA hired one of its journos for a side job?

But fear not, the CIA would never do such:

The arrest shows that Moscow is “increasingly treating the United States as an open belligerent in a war against Russia,” according to George Beebe of the Quincy Institute, who previously led Russia analysis at the CIA.

Citing a 1977 law that banned CIA recruitment of journalists, Beebe argued that it is “very unlikely that Gershkovich is a U.S. intelligence asset or that his reporting was directed or influenced by the U.S. Intelligence Community.”

Surely, the CIA would never ever break a law, says a former CIA analyst …

But why then is the U.S. Secretary of State calling Russia for a talk about the man?

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday held a call with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, to discuss Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and US citizen who was detained in Russia last week over spying allegations.

According to a State Department readout of the call, Blinken expressed the US’s “grave concern over Russia’s unacceptable detention of a US citizen journalist” and called for his “immediate release.”

According to the Russian side, Lavrov told Blinken that a Russian court will decide Gershkovich’s fate. “In light of the established evidence of the US national’s illegal activities, his future will be determined by court,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) claimed that Gershkovich, “acting at the behest of the American side, collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of an enterprise within Russia’s military-industrial complex.”

May be I am naive, but what Gershkovich inquired about was way too much on the questionable side than to be called journalism:

Kevin Rothrock @KevinRothrock – 17:15 UTC · Mar 30, 2023

Journalist @kolezev, who spoke on background to @evangershkovich before his trip to Yekaterinburg, says Evan hoped to intercept employees (literally in the street) leaving the UralVagonZavod plant in Nizhny Tagil or the NPO Novator missile factory in Yekaterinburg, planning to ask them how they feel about the invasion of Ukraine.

This more than the WSJ’s Wagner Group investigation seems likeliest to have triggered the FSB’s “espionage” paranoia. Evan knew the risks but apparently hoped that the FSB would let him be, given that war sentiment isn’t a state secret.

Колезев ☮️
Мария Захарова заявила, что «то, чем занимался в Екатеринбурге сотрудник американского издания The Wall Street Journal, не имеет отношения к журналистике». Марии Захаровой, конечно, виднее, ей в ФСБ…

Tass summarizes the accusations:

  • US citizen Evan Gershkovich, a correspondent for the Moscow bureau of The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), was detained in Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Region, in the Urals region of Russia, on suspicion of espionage.
  • According to the FSB, the journalist was collecting top-secret data about an enterprise within the Russian military-industrial complex in the interests of the United States.
  • The American was detained while trying to obtain classified data.

Yekaterinburg has been a the metallurgical center of Russia for 300 years:

Yekaterinburg was founded on 18 November 1723 and named after Yekaterina I, the wife of Russian emperor Peter the Great. The city served as the mining capital of the Russian Empire as well as a strategic connection between Europe and Asia.

The city grew during the second world war when Russia moved its heavy industry away from the frontline to behind the Ural. UralVagonZavod is the largest tank manufacturer in the world. It is currently producing the T-90 tanks for the Russian army. NPO Novator is making anti-aircraft missiles and other weapons like the Kalibr cruise missiles which are currently in high demand.

To ask workers of such factories how they feel about the U.S. proxy war waged against Russia while that war is ongoing seems a bit off to me.

What would have been the offer by Gershkovich to any worker who would have spoken against the war?

Also, this was about more than just asking random workers:

The Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was interested in operation of military-industrial complex facilities in Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Region Legislative Assembly deputy Vycheslav Vegner, whom the reporter interviewed earlier, told TASS Thursday.

“[During the interview, Gershkovich] started asking questions regarding the military-industrial complex of Yekaterinburg, he named one such enterprise – ‘Novator’- and so on,” Vegner said.

According to the lawmaker, the reported cited the experience of other regions on industry conversion and asked about the Sverdlovsk Region experience – for example, whether the enterprises change their profile, how many shifts there are, and if they are appropriately staffed. Vegner noted during the interview that he is not authorized to answer such question.

Anything about weapon production numbers or related issues are of course state secrets, at least during times of war. What then do we call such inquiries if not espionage?

See the rest here

Be seeing you


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