Biden says he’s “serious” about prisoner swap to release imprisoned Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich


Washington – President Biden said he was “serious” about securing the release of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who is being held in Russia, through a prisoner swap.

“I’m serious about a prisoner swap,” Mr. Biden said Thursday during a press conference in Helsinki, Finland. “I am serious about doing whatever we can to free Americans who are being held illegally in Russia or elsewhere, and that process is ongoing.”

The US has labeled Gershkovich, who was arrested in March on espionage charges, as “wrongly detained“Russia has not provided any evidence to support the allegations, which Gershkovich and his employer have vehemently denied.

The main spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin called In early July, there had been contacts between the US and Russia about a possible prisoner swap that Gershkovich could be involved in. However, he said any negotiations should not be made public.

Mr Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, confirmed last week that “discussions” had taken place, but he did not want to “give false hope”.

“Those discussions haven’t resulted in a clear path to resolution, and so I can’t stand here today and tell you that we have a clear answer as to how we’re going to get Evan home,” Sullivan said Friday.

The US is also seeking the release of Paul Whelan, who has been detained in Russia since December 2018 and is serving a 16-year sentence. The US also considers him “unlawfully detained”.

Gershkovich’s sister, Danielle, told the National Press Club Thursday that her family is trying to stay strong.

“I just try to take it every day,” she said. “Sometimes it still feels unreal. It’s a full-time job for my parents.”

Gershkovich’s parents, who fled the Soviet Union in 1979, have traveled to Russia twice since his arrest to see him briefly before his court hearings.

Danielle Gershkovich said she receives letters from her brother about once a week.

“I’m so proud of him,” she said. “I don’t know how he can stay brave like that, but it means I have to stay brave for him too.”

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