Kremlin open to possible prisoner swap for detained WSJ reporter – News Block

A Kremlin spokesman confirmed Tuesday that Russia is in contact with the United States about possible plans for a prisoner swap, likely for detainees. Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

On Monday, the US ambassador to Russia lynne tracey met Gershkovich, 32, at Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, a facility known for its harsh conditions, where the reporter awaits trial. Gershkovich has been jailed since March, when he was detained on a briefing tour by Russia’s Federal Security Bureau (FSB) and charged with espionage. (Gershkovich denies the allegations, and the US State Department has deemed his situation a wrongful detention.)

The meeting with Tracey, who reported through a spokesperson that Gershkovich was in “good health” and “strong, despite his circumstances,” was the first time in almost three months that the US reporter was able to have contact with a diplomatic official. US.

Hours later, the Russian embassy in Washington said some of its staff had met with vladimir dunaev, who is currently in remand in Ohio. Dunaev was extradited from South Korea to the United States in 2021 on cybercrime charges. The meeting was the first time Russian officials had consular access to him since that year, according to the head of the consular section of the Russian embassy.

In a daily briefing on Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov he was asked if the two meetings heralded a possible prisoner exchange. “We have said that there have been some contacts on the subject, but we don’t want them to be discussed in public,” Peskov said. “They must be carried out and continue in complete silence.”

There have been indications in recent months that Russia is considering a prisoner swap, though officials have insisted the swap could only happen after a verdict is reached in Gershkovich’s trial. A trial date has yet to be announced, and in May a Moscow court extended the reporter’s period of pretrial detention until August 30.

Following Monday’s meeting, a State Department spokesman reiterated calls to release Gershkovich, as well as Paul Whelan, a businessman and former marine who has been detained in Russia since 2018, also on espionage charges. “Both men deserve to go home to their families now,” the spokesperson said.

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