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A US journalist has been "abducted" from a steakhouse in Russia after writing about the Wagner Group mercenaries.
Evan Gershkovich, 31, a reporter covering Russia and Ukraine for The Wall Street Journal, was detained by security forces in the city of Yekaterinburg on Thursday (March 29).
The FSB, Russia's security service, said he has been charged with espionage and was involved in the collection of "secret information", according to state-run media outlet RIA Novosti.
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According to Russian outlet Current Time, Gershkovich had been there for several weeks and was accompanied by Yaroslav Shirshkov, a connect who introduced him to the Wagner mercenaries.
Shirshkov wrote on his Telegram channel that he received a call from London in the early hours of the morning as "he left my phone number in the editorial office in case something happens".
Shirshkov said he was told Gershkovich "returned to Yekaterinburg on Wednesday and stopped communicating for more than 9 hours".
He also shared a message from the Vecherniye Vedomosti Telegram channel that cited a witness as saying they saw a man being "abducted" at the Bukowski Grill restaurant in Yekaterinburg.
Men in civilian clothes, presumed to be security forces, were apparently spotted bundling a man into a minibus.
"When the detainee was being led, a sweater was pulled over his head so that passers-by could not see his face," the post read.
Russian journalist Dmitry Kolezev wrote on Telegram that two sources confirmed it was Gershkovich who was detained.
He said: "Evan travelled to Yekaterinburg to write about the attitude towards the war and the recruitment of local residents in the PMC Wagner.
"The worst but realistic option regarding how the situation with Evan Gershkovich develops is that he will be charged with espionage (there are many defence enterprises in Yekaterinburg, and Evan could travel to other cities in the region, where there are also plenty of them) and then be imprisoned for an exchange for someone."
According to Meduza, now that he has been charged with espionage, Gershkovich faces up to 20 years in prison.
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