Montevideo, Uruguay – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) issued the following statement calling on the Biden administration to expedite a “wrongfully detained” determination in the case of New Jersey native and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, currently detained on trumped up espionage charges in Russia:
“I commend Evan’s family, colleagues and friends for their fervent advocacy these past few days. In the midst of the heartbreak of Evan’s detention, their efforts have been instrumental in frustrating Putin’s attempt to prevent the truth from reaching his own people and the rest of the world. Yet, there is still work that needs to be done to bring Evan home.
“First, Russia must comply with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. It is outrageous that they have denied the State Department one of the most basic tenets of this international treaty. There is no excuse for failing to provide such access eight days into Mr. Gershkovich’s detention.
“Second, I adamantly agree with Secretary Blinken’s assertion that Mr. Gershkovich is wrongfully detained and urge the Administration to render an official determination, pursuant to the Levinson Act I authored, that will transfer control of the Department’s response to Mr. Gershkovich’s arrest to the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (SPEHA). Such a determination would help provide Mr. Gershkovich and his family critical support and resources offered by the SPEHA Office.
“As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, my commitment remains as strong as ever to use the power of my position to secure Mr. Gershkovich’s release. Evan’s heroic commitment to deliver critical stories about Putin’s Russia to the world in the face of the most perilous circumstances is an inspiration for countless journalists putting themselves in danger every day. We owe them nothing less than our full commitment to mobilize every tool the United States has to bring home all hostages and wrongfully detained Americans.”