The arrest of an American journalist in Russia is awful. For me, it’s also painfully personal


His face stared out from news stories on Thursday morning, accompanied by headlines like this one in the Guardian: “Russia arrests reporter and accuses him of espionage.”

Oh, that’s awful, I thought at first, reflecting that we really are involved in some kind of new cold war, and there is no end to the toll that authoritarian governments will take on journalists. The imprisonment of journalists is at a historic high worldwide; I’ve written columns about that. And I know that there are close to 20 journalists in Russian jails and that Vladimir Putin’s administration has instituted harsh consequences for what it considers “fake” news, a highly subjective judgment.

And then, a moment later, another reality hit me.

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