Russia detains Princeton native Evan Gershkovich of the Wall Street Journal (updated 3:30 p.m.)

Evan Gershkovich, a 31-year-old reporter for the Wall Street Journal, has been detained by Russian security agents on espionage charges.

Gershkovich grew up in Princeton, played soccer for the Princeton Union soccer club, was the captain of the Princeton High School soccer team, and played soccer for Bowdoin College. He graduated from Princeton High School in 2010.

He was detained in Yekaterinburg, Russia on Thursday, March 30 by the Russian Federal Security Service for allegedly trying to obtain classified information.

Gershkovich is the first American correspondent to be detained on espionage charges in Russia since the Cold War. In 1986, U.S. News and World Report reporter Nicholas Daniloff was arrested by the KGB.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Gershkovich has worked as a reporter in Russia since 2017. He previously worked at the Moscow Times, Agence France-Presse, and as a news assistant for the New York Times.

Gershkowitz played hockey in Russia on a club hockey team. In his free time, he enjoyed touring the country.

“The Wall Street Journal vehemently denies the allegations from the FSB and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter, Evan Gershkovich,” the Wall Street Journal said in a statement. “We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family.”

A spokeswoman for the Princeton Public Schools said the school district staff members, teachers, students, and alumni share the community’s concern about the news of Gershkovich’s detainment. The news was upsetting to many alumni, especially former high school soccer players who were close to Gershkovich.

“I knew Evan Gershkovich well,” said Wayne Sutcliffe, a physical education teacher at Princeton High School and head soccer coach. “He was captain of the Princeton High School 2009 soccer team, which won the New Jersey State Championship. I have been fielding text messages all morning from our Princeton High School soccer alumni, all of whom are trying to find a way we can help to support Evan’s family.” 

Gershkovich was remembered Thursday by his peers as being an outstanding student and an exceptional athlete. “In high school, Evan was a terrific kid and great soccer captain,” said one Princeton High School alumna.