An image of detained Wall Street journalist and Bowdoin College graduate Evan Gershkovich broadcasted to the Dow Jones & Company Newsroom. Courtesy of Bowdoin College

Friday marks the one-year anniversary of The Wall Street Journal reporter and Bowdoin College alum Evan Gershkovich’s detention in a Moscow prison.

“It’s a grim anniversary,” said Brock Clarke, a Bowdoin College English professor who taught Gershkovich in his advanced fiction workshop. “It hurts to think about him still in prison on these obviously trumped-up charges. We need to keep his name in the news until he comes home.”

Gershkovich was reporting for the WSJ when he was arrested last year in Russia on what U.S. officials have contended are concocted espionage charges. After spending one year behind bars, the U.S. citizen’s prison time was extended on Tuesday for the fifth time. He will now sit in the dismal Lefortovo Prison until at least June 30.

Gershkovich was arrested a year ago Friday while on a reporting trip for The Wall Street Journal to the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg. The Federal Security Service, or FSB, alleges he was acting on U.S. orders to collect state secrets but provided no evidence to support the accusation, which he, the Journal and the U.S. government deny. Washington designated him as wrongfully detained.

Last September, Gershkovich’s friends and the Bowdoin College community gathered at the school to spotlight his struggle in Russia’s notorious justice system. Though the college currently has nothing planned for the anniversary, Gershkovich’s detention is not lost on the academic community.

Brian Purnell, an associate professor of Africana studies who taught Gershkovich as freshman, said Gershkovich is wrongly imprisoned, but the values of his work are thriving in the class he is teaching now.


“Someday Evan will be free,” Purnell said. “Until then, he inspires me to help my students strive for excellence because one of them could be a torchbearer of democracy in the making like Evan was when he was in their seat.”

To acknowledge the one-year detention, The Wall Street Journal hosted a 24-hour read-a-thon of Gershkovich’s published work. The event, which was streamed on YouTube, started on Wednesday morning and ended on Thursday.

Gershkovich’s trial date remains unclear, though court proceedings could last a year, according to The Associated Press. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

At the time of Gerhskovich’s arrest, the U.S. State Department stated he was wrongfully detained, while the White House said that the charges are “ridiculous” and have been working on his release.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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