The White House on Friday confirmed there have been talks with Russia about a potential prisoner swap involving detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.
“I do not want to give false hope,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters. “There have been discussions, but those discussions have not produced a clear pathway.”
“We have also made clear for months now, even before Evan was detained as we were dealing with Paul Whelan, that we are prepared to do hard things in order to get our citizens,” he said.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday that the U.S. and Russia are discussing a swap of Gershkovich and Vladimir Dunaev, a Russian citizen who is facing charges in the U.S. for alleged cybercrimes. U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy met with Gershkovich at Lefortovo prison in Moscow a day before Peskov’s comments.
“We have said that we remain in contact with Russian authorities, at high levels, on these cases,” Sullivan said Friday.
WNBA star Brittney Griner was released by Russia in a prisoner swap in December, with the U.S. releasing Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Friday marks 100 days since Gershkovich was arrested in late March on espionage charges. Sullivan said he met with representatives from the Wall Street Journal and Gershkovich’s family earlier Friday to mark the day.
Sullivan also said the White House is “invested” in bringing home Gershkovich, as well as former Marine Paul Whelan, who has been detained in Russia since 2018.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre marked the 100 days at the top of the daily briefing, saying that the message to Gershkovich and Whelan is “keep the faith.”
“The world knows that the charges against Evan are baseless; he was arrested in Russia during the course of simply doing his job as a journalist,” Jean-Pierre said. “And he is being held by Russia for leverage because he is an American.”
“The president has been very clear that we have no higher priority than securing the release of Evan, Paul Whelan and all Americans detained abroad,” she added.
Source: The Hill