PRINCETON, N.J. (PIX11) – American journalist Evan Gershkovich is detained by the Russian government and charged with spying on the country for the United States. 

Gershkovich covers Russia and Ukraine for the Wall Street Journal, but he graduated from Princeton High School before becoming a journalist and playing college soccer.

In a statement, Thursday, the Wall Street Journal “vehemently denies the allegations,” calling him a trusted and dedicated reporter.

“Putin plays all these little games of bluffing and brinksmanship, and this is another one,” said United States Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “But to have an innocent journalist be held hostage for that is despicable.”

Earlier this week, Gershkovich published a story on how Russia’s economy is beginning to unravel as the war drags on.

A graduate of Princeton High School class of 2010, Gershkovich was the captain of the soccer team that went on to win the state championship. His old soccer coach, who is still the current coach, said in a statement to PIX11 News he is currently in touch with PHS soccer alumni, trying to find a way to support Evan’s family.

International journalist advocate group Reporters Without Borders said that Russian Federal Services arrested Gershkovich in western Siberia and has since been transported to Moscow.

“At this stage, nothing indicates that this journalist was working beyond his work as a journalist,” said Jeanne Cavelier of Reporters Without Borders. “He was investigating on Wagner’s recruitment in Yekaterinburg and on Russians’ attitude towards the war.”

“These espionage charges are ridiculous,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “The targeting of American citizens by the Russian government is unacceptable. We condemn the detention of Mr. Gershkovich in the strongest terms. We also condemn the Russian government’s continued targeting and repression of journalists.”