Biden Says He’s ‘Serious’ About Prisoner Exchange

( – US President Joe Biden said on July 13 that he’s “serious” in his attempt of exchanging a prisoner for the Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. The American journalist was detained by Russia’s FSB in the city of Yekaterinburg and was eventually jailed in Moscow on espionage charges.

During a press conference in the Finnish city of Helsinki, the commander-in-chief said he was willing to take this step so Gershkovich can return to the United States. He added that his administration is “serious” about doing “all we can” to liberate every single American that is “illegally held” in Russia or any other country. President Biden also told reporters that the process “is underway.”

Earlier this month, the Kremlin suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin was willing to exchange prisoners with Washington and include Gershkovich in the process. However, the Kremlin noted that every talk between the two governments about these hypothetical exchanges must be made privately.

On July 7, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters during a press briefing that Washington already held “discussions” with Moscow. He explained that even when both sides showed their demands to each other, there was not yet a clear “pathway” to get Gershkovich’s liberation.

The Wall Street Journal reporter was arrested while on a reporting trip investigating one of the main arms companies supporting the war in Ukraine. He’s currently being held at the Lefortovo prison, which is known for its harsh conditions and for being the prison where the most important Russian political prisoners are.

The American journalist and his lawyers denied the espionage charges, and the Biden administration declared that he was “wrongfully detained” by Russia. Different reports from Russian independent media outlets revealed that authorities haven’t provided any evidence that supports the espionage charges against him.

Gershkovich is the first US journalist detained in Russia since the end of the Cold War. The latest case took place in 1986 when the KGB arrested Nicholas Daniloff, who was the correspondent of US News and World Report.

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