The US authorities are cooperating with the Russian Federation through all available channels to secure the release of The Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich and American Paul Whelan arrested for espionage. This was announced on Tuesday, April 18, by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
“Administration [президента США Джо] Biden and [вице-президента Камалы] Harris is engaging with Russia through all available channels to bring Evan and Paul Whelan home,” she said during the briefing.
The issue of the possibility of exchanging prisoners in the White House has not yet been commented on.
Earlier in the day, US Ambassador to Moscow Lynn Tracy said authorities would seek the release of accused Evan Gershkovich. Tracy also expressed her hope for regular meetings with him.
On March 30, Evan Gershkovich was detained in Yekaterinburg while trying to obtain classified information constituting a state secret about one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex.
A criminal case has been initiated against the journalist under Art. 276 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“Espionage”). The Lefortovo Court of Moscow on March 30 arrested Gershkovich for two months. However, the suspect categorically denied all accusations, saying that he was engaged in journalistic activities in Russia. He also failed to contest his arrest.
Paul Whelan was detained in Moscow at the end of December 2018. A criminal case was opened against him under the article on espionage (Article 276 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). In mid-June 2020, the Moscow City Court sentenced Whelan to 16 years in a strict regime colony. In August, he arrived in one of the colonies in Mordovia. On November 8, 2021, an appeals court in Nizhny Novgorod refused to extradite Whelan to the United States to serve his sentence.