Putin says he hopes for prisoner swap for Gershkovich, Whelan but talks are 'not simple' | Inquirer News

Putin says he hopes for prisoner swap for Gershkovich, Whelan but talks are ‘not simple’

/ 06:43 AM December 15, 2023

FILE PHOTO: 2023 through the lens of Reuters photographers

FILE PHOTO: Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands inside an enclosure for defendants before a court hearing to consider an appeal against his pre-trial detention on espionage charges in Moscow, Russia, October 10, 2023. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File Photo

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin, asked on Thursday about a possible prisoner swap for the Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and U.S. Marine veteran Paul Whelan, said he hoped an agreement would be reached but that the U.S. had to listen to Russia’s conditions.

Asked about the two men’s cases by a New York Times reporter at his annual press conference, Putin said: “We want to reach an agreement, and these agreements must be mutually acceptable and must suit both parties.”


READ: Jailed WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich’s arrest extended by Moscow court — state news agency

He said Russia had ongoing contacts with the United States over the issue.


“It is not simple, I will not go into details now, but in general, it seems to me that we speak a language that is understandable to each other. I hope we will find a solution. But, I repeat, the American side must hear us and make an appropriate decision, one that suits the Russian side.”

In Washington, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said discussions were ongoing but Russia had rebuffed a serious proposal.

“There was one put forward and they rebuffed it,” Kirby told reporters.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said the United States wanted a deal.

“If Vladimir Putin is serious about this, all he has to do is look at the proposals that we have made to secure their release, which were significant proposals that were made in good faith,” Miller said.

READ: Jailed American spent years collecting Russian contacts

Russia arrested Moscow correspondent Gershkovich on charges of spying in March. Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal, and the White House have all denied that he is a spy or works for the U.S. government.


Marine veteran Paul Whelan was arrested in 2018, convicted of spying for the U.S. in 2020, and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Whelan and the U.S. government both deny the charges.

The U.S. government considers both men to be wrongfully detained. The State Department said on Dec. 5 that Russia had in recent weeks rejected a substantial new proposal for their release.

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TAGS: Evan Gershkovich, Paul Whelan, prisoner swap, Russia-Ukraine war, United States, Vladimir Putin

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