Potential prisoner swap deal in the works for Wall Street Journal writer detained in Russia: report

Gershkovich is the first US journalist to be detained in Russia on charges of spying since the Cold War.

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
Russian and American officials are reportedly discussing a prisoner swap that could include detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, however, no further details have been released by either side.

Gershkovich has been held in Moscow’s Lefortovo pre-trial detention centre for months after being arrested and charged with "espionage." Previous attempts to free him via the Russian legal system have come up fruitless.

According to the Washington Post, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov explained on Tuesday that officials "don't want [the details] discussed in public," adding that prisoner swap negotiations "must be carried out and continue in complete silence."

The Russian government has appeared willing to swap US-held prisoners for Gershkovich, however, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said earlier this year that talks would only begin after the journalist's trial had ended.

Gershkovich and the US have tried to hasten proceedings, but it has been to no avail. Last week, a Russian court determined that he had to remain in pre-trial detention at Lefortovo until August 30.

On Monday, US Ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, met with Gershkovich and noted that he "is in good health and remains resilient despite the circumstances." She expressed hope that the Russian government would "provide regular consular access."

As the Wall Street Journal reports, White House officials stated on Tuesday, "While we unfortunately do not have a breakthrough to share, we continue to pursue every avenue to secure the release of Evan Gershkovich."

The US government, including Ambassador Tracy, has maintained Gershkovich's innocence and slammed the Russian government over his treatment. 

"The accusations against Gershkovich are unfounded," she said, "and we call on the Russian authorities to release the journalist immediately."

The Wall Street Journal also stood with Gershkovich, stating,"Evan is a member of the free press who right up until he was arrested was engaged in news-gathering. Any suggestions otherwise are false."

The first US journalist to be detained in Russia on charges of spying since the Cold War, Gershkovich could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.
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