Voice of America is "thoroughly reviewing" stories the government news agency published from a freelance journalist arrested on suspicion of being a Russian spy.
The organization scrubbed its website and social media accounts of stories by Pablo Gonzalez following his arrest in Poland on spy charges. Polish authorities arrested Gonzalez on Feb. 28 at the Poland-Ukraine border amid suspicions that he was working covertly for Russia's foreign intelligence service, the GRU. Polish authorities alleged that Gonzalez collected intelligence from inside Poland and planned to do the same from Ukraine.
Gonzalez, a Spanish national born in Russia, worked for several news outlets in Europe, including Spain's La Sexta and Publico. The Washington Free Beacon reported that Gonzalez last year produced at least six stories for VOA, mostly from the frontlines of the Nagorno-Karabakh war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. He worked as a cameraman on a VOA story from eastern Ukraine on Feb. 6. Gonzalez that same day was reportedly detained by Ukrainian authorities but later released.
Poland's Internal Security Agency now accuses him of "conducting his business for Russia while taking advantage of his journalist status."
VOA downplayed its links to Gonzalez, describing him as having an "indirect relationship" with the news agency.
"As a freelancer, his services were arranged through a third party company used by news organizations around the world," said Bridget Serchak, the director of public relations for VOA. "He was never a VOA employee, nor did he have a contract directly with VOA."
Gonzalez's affiliation with VOA raises concerns that a Russian spy used the agency to conduct espionage for Russia. If Gonzalez is indeed a spy, it could lend credence to comments from Michael Pack, who oversaw the news agency during the Trump administration. Pack told The Federalist that VOA was "a great place to put a foreign spy" because of its lax security standards.
Serchak said VOA notified its security office of Gonzalez's arrest and began "thoroughly reviewing" his work product.
"While VOA is currently unaware of any information that would confirm the allegations against this freelancer, out of an abundance of caution, VOA has removed all of Gonzalez's content from its websites and social media accounts and is thoroughly reviewing the stories," Serchak said.