U.S. Ambassador Meets Evan Gershkovich, Detained WSJ Reporter, in Russia

by Pelican Press
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The U.S. ambassador to Russia met with Evan Gershkovich, the jailed American reporter for The Wall Street Journal, in Lefortovo Prison in Moscow on Monday, the State Department said hours after their talk.

The visit by the ambassador, Lynne Tracey, marked the third time she had met with Mr. Gershkovich since he was detained by the Russian authorities in March.

“Ambassador Tracy said that Evan continues to appear in good health and remains strong, despite his circumstances,” the State Department said in a written statement.

American officials have said that their Russian counterparts are blocking them from getting regular consular access to Mr. Gershkovich, the first American journalist arrested on an espionage charge in Russia since the end of the Cold War.

Relations between Washington and Moscow are at their lowest point in decades following the decision by President Vladmir V. Putin to start a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Analysts say Russian officials under Mr. Putin likely detained Mr. Gershkovich in hopes of doing a prisoner swap with the United States.

Russian officials are holding Mr. Gershkovich, 31, on an accusation of spying even though he is a journalist with accreditation from Russia’s Foreign Ministry and despite the fact he was doing reporting at the time of his detention.

Agents from the Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., detained Mr. Gershkovich on March 29 while he was on a reporting trip in the city of Yekaterinburg in the Urals region.

The Wall Street Journal and Mr. Gershkovich’s family members have denied any accusation that he is a spy, and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in April that he had been wrongfully detained.

In December 2022, President Biden agreed to release Viktor Bout, an imprisoned Russian weapons dealer, in exchange for the freedom of Brittney Griner, the American basketball star, nearly 10 months after Ms. Griner was detained in Moscow on accusations of drug smuggling and possession. The State Department said in May 2022 that she had been wrongfully detained.

Russia has said it will discuss prisoner releases with the United States through a special channel that Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin established at a meeting in Geneva in 2021. The negotiations to release of Ms. Griner took place through that channel.

A Russian court decided in June to extend Mr. Gershkovich’s detention until at least Aug. 30 and denied an appeal from his lawyers. The detention was initially supposed to have ended on May 29. Ms. Tracey last met with Mr. Gershkovich in prison on July 3.



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