News and Music Discovery
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Journalist Evan Gershkovich tells family he's 'not losing hope' in Russian detention

Journalist Evan Gershkovich, seen here on July 24, 2021, is scheduled to face trial on alleged espionage charges in Russia in May.
Dimitar Dilkoff
AFP via Getty Images
Journalist Evan Gershkovich, seen here on July 24, 2021, is scheduled to face trial on alleged espionage charges in Russia in May.

In a handwritten letter sent to the U.S. since his arrest in Russia, journalist Evan Gershkovich told his family that he is "not losing hope" and continues to read and write in detention.

"I read. I exercise. And I am trying to write. Maybe, finally, I am going to write something good," Gershkovich wrote in Russian, the language he speaks at home with his parents, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Gershkovich, a Journal correspondent based in Moscow, was arrested at the end of March during a reporting trip to the provincial city of Yekaterinburg, which is home to various Russian military factories.

A Moscow court formally charged Gershkovich with espionage and ordered him to be held until May 29 pending an investigation, according to Russian media reports. The Journal has vehemently denied that Gershkovich is a spy. The State Department has also called him "wrongfully detained."

Gershkovich, who is being held in Moscow's Lefortovo prison, has not been allowed to see any officials from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow despite "repeated demands for access" the Journal reported. So far, only visits from his Russian attorneys have been allowed.

In an interview with NPR this week, Roger Carstens, a U.S. special presidential envoy, vowed to free Gershkovich, as well as former Marine Paul Whelan.

"In the 26 months of the Biden administration, we've brought back 26 Americans. And we will bring Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich home," Carstens said.

The next day, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergey Ryabkov, told the state news agency Tass that a prisoner swap is possible but only after Gershkovich is put on trial.

Gershkovich remains optimistic, jokes with his family in a handwritten letter

His family in Philadelphia received the brief, two-page note, dated April 5, on Friday, the Journal reported. It's the first direct contact Gershkovich has had with his loved ones since his arrest.

He confirmed that he received a care package, arranged by a friend, containing toiletries, slippers, clothes and pens. Gershkovich went on to poke fun at his mother's cooking — an attempt to bolster his family's spirits, his mother told the Journal.

"Mom, you unfortunately, for better or worse, prepared me well for jail food," he wrote. "In the morning, for breakfast, they give us hot creamed wheat, oatmeal cereal or wheat gruel. I am remembering my childhood."

At the end of his note, Gershkovich signed off: "Until we meet soon. Write me."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.