The following is a transcript of an interview with Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Emma Tucker that aired on "Face the Nation" on April 2, 2023.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Joining us now to discuss Russia's detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is the Journal's Editor in Chief Emma Tucker and she joins us from New York. Good morning to you.
EMMA TUCKER: Good morning, Margaret. And thanks very much for having me on. And also, I just want to say before we get going, thank you to CBS and all the other news networks and news outlets that are continuing to focus on this story. It's really important for us to keep focused on Evan's plight at a time when I know the news is very busy.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we agree with you. And I want to ask you this morning, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. It is very rare that they speak, but according to the State Department, the Secretary had grave concern over the unacceptable detention of a journalist, and that is Evan. What do you know about this? Has any of it helped Evan's case?
EMMA TUCKER: Well, one of the big problems in this case is we know so little. We know very well- to the best of our knowledge, we know that avenue is being held in a prison in Moscow. But we haven't been able to get any messages to him. We haven't heard anything from him. There's been very little official information. The fact that Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to his counterpart today is hugely reassuring to us. We know that the U.S. government is taking the case very seriously, right up to the top. And as I say that that for us has been, you know, gratifying to know that they take it as seriously as they do.
MARGARET BRENNAN: There is a legal determination being wrongfully detained, and it comes with it a little bit more leeway for the fight that the US government can put up here. What difference do you think that will make in this case? And how quickly will it come?
EMMA TUCKER: Well, we're hoping that the government will move swiftly to designate Evan as wrongfully detained. It can take a long time, but we're hoping we're optimistic it'll move a bit more swiftly in this case. When that happens, it's an official recognition that the charges against Evan are entirely bogus. And once that official recognition comes, things can then move a bit more rapidly.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we know that when Evan was taken, there was also a very swift hearing, his lawyer was not allowed in. The State Department said that U.S. officials were not given any access to him. Do you have any timeline? It sounds like you don't have much more clarity, but will he be given what are supposed to be the legal standards here of access?
EMMA TUCKER: Well, I think that's- that's anyone's guess. We are hopeful that a lawyer will get to see him next week. We're pressing constantly for reassurance that he's not been mistreated in any way. But we're dealing with the Russian authorities here. It's- it's difficult to know what will happened next. I'm optimistic that we'll be able to make some sort of contact with him next week. But who knows.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, from the very top of the Russian government, we have seen this commented on. Vladimir Putin's own spokesperson claims Evan was caught red handed. According to our CBS contributor John Sullivan, who was former U.S. Ambassador to Moscow, he said The Wall Street Journal is too high profile an organization for this to have been a mistake for this not to have been targeted, and it had to have been approved at the very highest levels in Moscow. Do you have any idea what the motivation was?
EMMA TUCKER: I have no idea. Evan-Evan is a very talented, experienced reporter. He-He's accredited to report from Russia. And he was on an- on an assignment doing what he always does. He was gathering information. He was reporting from the ground to provide our readers with eyewitness accounts of what it's like to be in Russia at the moment. He- it's a complete outrage that he was arrested like this. And I- you know, I really don't understand- none of us can. The- what the Russian authorities are saying is utter nonsense.
MARGARET BRENNAN: There was some Russian reporting he was working on a story about the military and others potentially about a mercenary group known as the Wagner group. Was that true?
EMMA TUCKER: Evan was doing what-what-what he always does, he was out reporting. He's- he's a very experienced reporter. He's covered all sorts of stories. He was on a mission over in the East writing about I don't- he was just doing what he always does. He was news gathering and talking to his contacts out there.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I know that I've read you've pulled your Moscow bureau chief from her post. How important is it to be able to continue to report from Russia? And do you plan to be able to continue this in some way?
EMMA TUCKER: Well, look, reporting out of Russia has become increasingly difficult, not just for foreign reporters, but especially for Russian reporters. You know, the Wall Street Journal is committed to covering stories from Russia, from- stories from around the world. But we're also obviously, we brought up the safety of our journalists first. A lot of other news organizations no longer have a presence in Russia. It's- it's clearly and particularly with this what's happened to Evan, Russia is sending a very, you know, a bad signal that it's not a safe place for journalists, even journalists who are accredited to work there, to work from.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
EMMA TUCKER: So you know, we are committed to covering the news. We're also committed to the safety of our journalists.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So important. Emma Tucker, thank you for your time. We wish you well. We'll be right back.
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