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“Cruel, unjustified”: Australians mobilize for detained journalist

AUSTRALIANS from all corners of the country – and those living overseas – have joined the growing chorus of people supporting jailed Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich.

Leaders from politics, sports, business and journalism wrote letters to Mr. Gershkovich, who on Friday celebrates his first birthday in a Russian prison on trumped-up espionage charges.

Among those who sent words of encouragement to Mr Gershkovich were Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, Australian cricket captain Pat Cummins and former Socceroo and humanitarian Craig Foster.

Mr Gershkovich’s plight has galvanized Australians across the countrywho sent their own letters of support as part of the Dear Evan campaign.

“Dear Evan, freedom of speech, freedom of the press cannot be stifled. You defend this freedom that many people think of you, take heart and stay strong,” wrote reader Jane Walton.

“Dear Evan, The support for you is now worldwide,” Clare wrote from Sydney.

“Your incarceration is cruel and unjustified. Although you must feel alone and helpless, citizens around the world have been alerted to your situation. Keep our support and love close to your heart.”

Rhonda and Graham from Bowral in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales wrote: “Your plight has reached a worried Australia, you are in our thoughts and we stand in solidarity with you.

“And I hope that the outpouring of support from all of us in Oz, as well as in the United States and elsewhere, can have an effect on Mr. Putin to reconsider your wrongful imprisonment and release you immediately without any conditions.”

Reader Ali Perry from Mount Martha in Victoria wrote: “Dear Evan, stay strong and believe that many people are fighting for you. Our thoughts and prayers.”

Australians living overseas also shared their thoughts, with reader KK writing: “Dear Evan. From Papua New Guinea we hear of your plight and wish you a speedy path to your family and freedom. KK.”

And expat Tracey Johnson wrote: “Sending a message of strength and love from an Australian living in Vietnam. The world knows you should be released. It’s going to happen. Hugs Tracey Johnson xx.”

Mr. Gershkovich was arrested while on assignment on March 29, 2023, in the city of Yekaterinburg, accused of being a spy, making him the first American accused of espionage since the Cold War.

These accusations are fiercely denied by Mr. Gershkovich, his family, his lawyer and his employer.

A Moscow court was extended this week his pre-trial detention until June 30, which means he has spent more than a year behind bars.

“I know it means a lot to Evan, his family and his colleagues at the Wall Street Journal to know that people around the world, including in Australia, are thinking of him at this unfortunate time,” said Mr. Gershkovich at the Wall Street Journal. editor Paul Beckett said:

“It’s inspiring to redouble our efforts to bring him home as quickly as possible,” said Mr. Beckett, who is working to free Mr. Gershkovich.

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