Joe Biden is serious about prisoner exchange to free the U.S. reporter confined in Russia.
Let’s read the news and learn what the U.S. president said at the conference.
Joe Biden ‘Serious’ About Prisoner Swap For Evan Gershkovich
On Thursday, United States President Joe Biden said he is serious about seeking prisoner exchange to free the Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who had been wrongfully detained in Russia.
In a news conference in Helsinki, Biden said, “I am serious about a prisoner exchange” when asked about Gershkovich’s continued detention in Russia. “And I am serious about doing all we can to free Americans being illegally held in Russia or anywhere else for that matter, and that process is underway,” added Biden, who completed his three-nation trip to Europe where he visited the U.K., Lithuania, and Finland.
Gershkovich, 32, who has spent 100 days in detention, was arrested on spying charges in Yekaterinburg, about 800 miles east of Moscow.
While Russian authorities have yet to provide evidence to support the charges against Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal has denied the charges labeling them “demonstrably false,” and the U.S. State Department has claimed he was wrongfully detained.
Gershkovich is the first American journalist arrested on espionage charges in Russia since the end of the Cold War, amid the country’s deteriorating relations over the Ukraine war.
The journalist who had accreditation from the Russian foreign ministry to report in the country is being jailed at Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, known for its harsh conditions.
He could face up to 20 years imprisonment if found guilty. Recently, the Moscow court ruled to keep him in custody until 30 August.
In an interview on Wednesday, Mikhail Gershkovich and Ella Milman, the parents of Gershkovich, who migrated from the Soviet Union to the U.S. in 1979, said that Biden had personally assured them to do whatever it took to bring their son home.
The President’s remarks on Thursday demonstrating his willingness to seek prisoner exchange are the strongest commitment so far in a public setting.
Last December, Russia freed the United States Basketball Player Brittney Griner, who was detained on drug charges, in exchange for the release of arms dealer Viktor Bout, arrested in the U.S. for ten months on weapons and drug smuggling charges.
Another American, Paul Whelan, the Michigan corporate security executive, has been detained in Russia since December 2018 on spying charges that the U.S. government has called baseless.
Although both countries have shown interest in engaging in a prisoner exchange to free their citizens, Russia has earlier argued that it would only exchange Gershkovich after a court delivers its judgment for the charges against him.
In Russia, legal proceedings, such as pre-trial detention and the real trial, may sometimes extend for more than a year. Nonetheless, the Biden government promised serious steps to release its citizens detained overseas.
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