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Military Veterans in Journalism: #FreeEvan

By May 8, 2023May 9th, 2023Features

MVJ’s executive director joins calls of support for the reporter’s freedom.

As a military veteran, a journalist, and a co-founder of Military Veterans in Journalism, I am outraged by the unjust detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich by Russia on false charges of espionage.

The imprisonment of journalists for simply doing their job is a heinous attack on the fundamental pillars of democracy and press freedom. Russia must free Evan immediately.

When I think of the situation that Evan is in, it makes me tense up. Having been detained for my owned journalism work by security forces in several autocratic nations throughout my career, I have a deep personal understanding of the sort of fear and uncertainty that Evan must be experiencing. For me, it was an overwhelming feeling of being entirely powerless.

Journalists around the world put themselves in harm’s way every day to report on important news and to hold those in power accountable. We must stand in solidarity with Evan and all other journalists who are being targeted for doing the critical work of journalism.

Gerschkovic’s detainment is also a heartbreaking reminder of the ongoing detention of U.S. Austin Tice, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran held in Syria since 2012 for his journalism on the conflict. Military Veterans in Journalism has publicly supported the Tice family in their mission to bring him home. We now join the call for Russia to release Evan. We also call on the Biden administration to do everything in its power to pressure Russia to free Evan.

The truth is a dangerous pursuit, but we must not let dictators like Putin instill fear in us as journalists.

We stand in solidarity with Evan Gerschkovic, his family and his colleagues at the Wall Street Journal as they fight to bring him home. But we cannot stop there. We must continue to raise our voices for press freedom, to call out injustice, and to protect those who risk everything to bring us the truth.

An image of MVJ Executive Director Zack Baddorf. Here, he is pictured smiling and wearing a gray shirt, with the U.S. flag in the background.

Zack Baddorf is a Navy veteran, journalist, and the co-founder and executive director of Military Veterans in Journalism. Currently a national security and foreign policy practitioner, Baddorf has more than 20 years of experience on the frontlines of the world’s conflicts, including Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central African Republic, Crimea, Kashmir and the West Bank.