The United States is working hard to secure the release of Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan from Russia. The US State Department has made several proposals to Russia in an effort to free the two men, but Russia has rejected these proposals. The US considers Gershkovich and Whelan to be “wrongfully detained” and believes that the charges against them are bogus and politically motivated.
Despite the strained relationship between the US and Russia, the US arranged a prisoner swap with Moscow a year ago, which brought home basketball star Brittney Griner in exchange for a jailed Russian arms dealer. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has stated that Russia is in contact with the US about prisoner swaps, but that these discussions need to take place in “complete silence.”
Evan Gershkovich was arrested in Russia during a reporting trip and accused of spying, charges that he and the Wall Street Journal deny. He has been held in custody pending trial and could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty. His sister has urged the Biden administration to remain focused on bringing him home from a Russian prison.
Paul Whelan, a former Marine, was arrested in Moscow in 2018 and convicted of espionage in 2020. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison, but he and the US government deny that he is a spy. Whelan’s family has reported that he was assaulted in prison, which has raised concerns about his well-being.
The United States has made it clear that securing the release of Gershkovich and Whelan is a top priority for Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President Joe Biden. Despite the challenges, the US is committed to continuing its efforts to bring the two men home.
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