US & Canada call for WSJ reporter's release from Russia

U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada called on Wednesday for the immediate release of a Wall Street Journal reporter arrested in Russia on spying charges.
FILE PHOTO: Reporter for U.S. newspaper The Wall Street Journal Evan Gershkovich appears in an undated handout image taken in an unknown location.
FILE PHOTO: Reporter for U.S. newspaper The Wall Street Journal Evan Gershkovich appears in an undated handout image taken in an unknown location. The Wall Street Journal/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada called on Wednesday for the immediate release of a Wall Street Journal reporter arrested in Russia on spying charges.

Russia's Federal Security Service said reporter Evan Gershkovich, a U.S. citizen, was arrested last week because he was "suspected of spying in the interests of the American government".

The Wall Street Journal denied Gershkovich was spying. The White House has called the espionage charge, which carries a prison term of up to 20 years, "ridiculous".

"The prime minister and the president spoke about Russia’s illegal detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and called for his immediate release," Trudeau's office said in a statement following a telephone call between the leaders.

Biden had already called for the reporter's release.

In their telephone call, Trudeau and Biden also spoke about migration and implementation of a Safe Third Country Agreement, Trudeau's office said.

Canada and the United States last month changed a two-decade-old refugee agreement as part of their attempts to reduce a record influx of asylum seekers entering Canada via unofficial border crossings.

The leaders were also looking forward to the first meeting of the Energy Transformation Task Force, which focuses on clean power and supply chains, the prime minister's office said.

(Reporting by Juby Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Robert Birsel)

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