OAN’s Noah Herring
12:20 PM – Thursday, July 13, 2023
President Biden announced that his administration is “serious” about pursuing a prisoner exchange for Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who has been detained in Russia for more than 100 days.
Biden made the comments on Thursday during a press briefing alongside Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in Helsinki.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t raise my colleague, Evan Gershkovich, who’s been imprisoned for more than 100 days. I just wondered if you had an update on the process for trying to get him out of prison and if you’re serious about a prisoner exchange,” a WSJ reporter asked.
“I’m serious about a prisoner exchange,” Biden responded. “I’m serious about doing all we can to free Americans who are being illegally held in Russia or anywhere else for that matter. That process is underway.”
Gershkovich was arrested on espionage charges in a situation in which the U.S. called “bogus.” U.S. ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, was able to meet with the reporter for the first time in months on July 5th.
“Evan is in good health and remains resilient despite the circumstances. We hope that the Russian authorities will provide regular consular access,” the U.S. embassy in Russia tweeted.
The Kremlin recognized the possibility of a prisoner swap with the U.S., but has refused to go into details. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was questioned about a potential swap for Russian citizen Vladimir Dunaev, who is in U.S. custody on cybercrime charges.
“We have said that there have been certain contacts on the subject, but we don’t want them to be discussed in public,” Peskov said of the discussions between Russian and U.S. officials. “They must be carried out and continue in complete silence.”
The last time the U.S. completed a prisoner swap with Russia was in December 2022, when WNBA player Brittney Griner was released along with Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is nicknamed the “Merchant of Death.” The arms dealer is now running for office in Russia after being freed.
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