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Putin signals he’s open to prisoner swap for Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich’s release


Washington — Russian President Vladimir Putin said “an agreement can be reached” with the United States to free Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich, who has been detained for nearly a year on unfounded espionage charges.

Putin was questioned by former Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson in an interview this week on whether he would release Gershkovich, who is awaiting trial, so Carlson can bring him back to the United States

Putin insisted he wanted to see the journalist return to the United States, but said the Kremlin expected something in return.

“We have made so many goodwill gestures out of decency that I think we don’t have any more,” Mr. Putin said, adding that he hoped the United States would “take reciprocal steps.”

Without mentioning any names, Putin suggested he wanted Russian assassin Vadim Krasikov in exchange for Gershkovich. Krasikov is serving a life sentence in Germany for the murder of a Chechen veteran in the Berlin park in 2019.

The State Department said in early December that it had conducted a “new and significant” proposal to Russia to release Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, an American businessman who is serving a 20-year prison sentence on espionage charges that he and his family vehemently deny. The United States is considering Gershkovich and Whelan as being wrongly detained.

“This proposal has been rejected by Russia,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on December 5.

Putin acknowledged at his end-of-year news conference that there were discussions between the Kremlin and Washington, but said the United States had not made a satisfactory offer.

In response, Miller said the United States had “put several offers on the table.”

“So far we have seen them refuse to act on our proposals and we hope that they will change the way they have handled this issue in the future,” Miller said on December 14.

Putin told Carlson that “there is an ongoing dialogue” between the U.S. and Russian special services and that such talks have been successful in the past.

“It is likely that this will also be successful,” Putin said. “But we have to reach an agreement.”

There have been two prisoner swaps between the United States and Russia in recent years to secure the Marine veteran’s release. Trevor Reed and WNBA star Brittney Grinerwho the United States also considered to be wrongly detained in Russia.

“I do not exclude that the person you are talking about, Mr. Gershkovich, could return to his homeland,” Putin said. “But ultimately it makes no sense to keep him in prison in Russia. We want the American special services to think about how they can help achieve the goals that our special services are pursuing.”

The White House said In January, President Biden became “personally engaged” in efforts to secure the release of Americans held hostage and unjustly detained abroad, including Gershkovich and Whelan.



Note: The content and images used in this article is rewritten and sourced from www.cbsnews.com

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