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Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan Could Be Traded: 'We Put a Significant Offer on the Table'

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Journalism is not a crime – writes The Wall Street Journal in defense of its journalist, Evan Gershkovich. As the newspaper's Moscow correspondent, he collected information for a report on the Wagner Group. The Russian services recognized that he was an agent, and now his trial has started. The US government is working to free Evan Gershkovich and another American, Paul Whelan, in a prisoner exchange.

Putin's regime has shown the world its most valuable prisoner – for a moment, in a transparent cage, with almost no hair. Evan Gershkovich's entire “guilt” is that he is an American. – We saw him in this aquarium today with a shaved head. The Russian authorities are doing everything to make him look like a criminal, but everyone in the West knows that Evan is just an honest journalist – commented Pjotr ​​Sauer, the journalist's friend and reporter for “The Guardian”.

Gershkovich, 32, is a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. The entire civilized world is demanding his release from Russia. Gershkovich, the son of emigrants from the USSR, worked in Russia for six years as an officially accredited reporter. He was arrested last year in Yekaterinburg, where he was working on a text about the founder of the Wagner group, Yevgeny Prigozhin. Now Gershkovich's trial has started. He faces up to 20 years in prison for alleged espionage.

– In March 2023, at the request of the CIA, he collected secret information on the activities of a defense enterprise engaged in the production and repair of military equipment in the Sverdlovsk region. His illegal activities were carried out in a highly discreet manner – claims Mikael Ozdoev, a Russian military prosecutor.

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Even representatives of the American consular services were not allowed into the courtroom. The U.S. Embassy in Russia said the Kremlin is using American citizens to achieve its own political goals. The Russian authorities only allow Gershkovich to contact the world by letter. The American is usually locked in a small cell in the Lefortovo detention center in Moscow.

SEE ALSO: “If you allow pessimism, the game is over.” A year has passed since Evan Gershkovich was imprisoned

– He can walk in this small space for an hour. He exercises, meditates, reads a lot, answers letters. Knowing the Russian language and culture helps him adapt to the whole situation, said Ella Milman, his mother Evan Gershkovich. – He is an incredibly strong and resilient guy. It's heartwarming to see how he endures it all with a sense of humor. This gives me grounds for optimism that he will be able to survive this, said Gordon Fairclough, head of the international department of “The Wall Street Journal”.

The trial of American journalist Evan Gershkovich has startedReuters

Possible prisoner exchange. “We have put a significant offer on the table”

Asked about a possible Gershkovich exchange, the Kremlin spokesman replied: “Such matters require public silence.” American diplomacy assures that it is doing everything to free not only Gershkovich, but also Paul Whelan, a former Marine who was arrested in Moscow six years ago on espionage charges.

“We put a significant offer on the table several months ago. We continue to work discreetly to secure their release. It shouldn't be like this. They should both be released immediately, but we will continue our efforts,” said Matthew Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department.

The case of Brittney Griner gives hope to the families of imprisoned Americans. The American basketball player, sentenced by a Russian court in a show trial to nine years in prison for alleged drug smuggling, was exchanged for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is in an American prison.

The exchange took place in December 2022. A month ago, Griner gave an interview in which she confessed that she tried to take her own life behind bars, and the Russian services forced her to write a letter of apology to Vladimir Putin.

READ ALSO: Brittney Griner Recalls Prison Horror in Russia: 'Bloodstain on Mattress, Thin Sheets'

Facts about the World TVN24 BiS

Main photo source: Reuters

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