WNBA star Brittney Griner has shared her concern and support for Evan Gershkovich, urging the Biden administration to «use every possible tool» to secure the release of the American journalist, who is being held in Russia on espionage charges. .

“Every American that is taken away is ours to fight and every American that comes back is a victory for all of us,” said Griner, who was released in a high-profile prisoner exchange after being jailed in Russia for most of a year. past.

«Our hearts are filled with great concern» for Gershkovich and his family,» Griner and his wife Cherelle said in a statement. posted on instagram Saturday afternoon.

Russian security officials arrested the 31-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter last week. He has been detained for at least two months on espionage charges that the Journal vehemently denies. The newspaper and other media organizations have demanded his release.

His arrest came as tensions deepen between Washington and Moscow over the war in Ukraine and as the Kremlin cracks down on free speech in the country. Gershkovich is the first American journalist to be arrested on espionage charges in Russia since the Cold War.

President Joe Biden urged Moscow to release Gershkovich, telling reporters Friday that his message about the arrest was simply: «Let him go.»

The Biden administration said Thursday it was working to secure US consular access to Gershkovich. Speaking at a press conference in Lusaka, Zambia, Vice President Kamala Harris added that the United States was «deeply concerned» by the arrest.

“We will not tolerate, and indeed will condemn, the crackdown on journalists,” Harris said during a week-long visit to Africa.

In their Instagram statement, the Griners celebrated the Biden administration’s «recent successful efforts» to repatriate other detained Americans, including Jeff Woodke, an aid worker who was held captive in Niger for six years, and Paul Rusesbagina, a legal US resident. and defender of human rights. worker who was jailed for more than two years in Rwanda.

The Griners called on their supporters to “encourage” the administration to do everything possible to bring wrongfully detained Americans home.

Griner, a six-time WNBA All-Star who plays for the Phoenix Mercury, spent most of last year in a Russian penal colony after being arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport in February and jailed on drug charges after she Russian authorities say they found vape canisters and cannabis oil in his luggage.

She was freed in December in a prisoner exchange for Viktor Bout, an illicit arms dealer nicknamed “the merchant of death”, who had served 11 years of a 25-year sentence in the US.

But Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov ruled out any quick exchange involving Gershkovich.

“I would not even consider this issue now because the people who were exchanged earlier had already served their sentences,” Ryabkov said on Thursday, according to the TASS news agency.

As Russia’s war effort in Ukraine continues, the crackdown on reporters and protesters in the country has intensified. Days after the invasion, Moscow introduced a new law criminalizing any criticism of the Russian military and threatening repeat offenders with prison.

Gershkovich, whose parents are from the former Soviet Union, covered Russia, Ukraine and countries of the former USSR for the Wall Street Journal. If he is found guilty of espionage, he could face up to 20 years in a Russian prison.

In a statement on Saturday, the Journal said it «demands the immediate release of our colleague,» describing him as a «distinguished» and «bold» reporter.

«Evan’s case is a callous affront to a free press, and should provoke the outrage of all free people and governments around the world,» he added.

Associated Press and Reuters contributed.