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Diplomat: Russia May Discuss Swap of Imprisoned US Reporters WGN Radio 720

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia could be happy to discuss a potential prisoner exchange with the United States after the trial of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gerszkovic, who was indicted on espionage charges. Russia’s top diplomat said on Thursday.

The 31-year-old Gerszkovic, his employer, and the U.S. government all denied he was involved in espionage and demanded his release.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told the state-run TASS news agency that discussions on a possible exchange could take place through dedicated channels set up by Russian and US security agencies for such purposes. .

“There have been working channels that have been used in the past to reach concrete agreements, and these agreements have been implemented,” said Ryabkov, adding that third countries do not need to be involved.

But he stressed that Moscow would only negotiate the possibility of exchanging prisoners after the trial. ” he was quoted as saying by Tass.

It’s not clear how long the investigation will last, but other spy cases have been going on for over a year.

In December, American basketball star Brittney Griner was traded for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout after being tried and convicted of drug possession charges. I ended up spending months in prison.

Another American, Paul Whelan, a corporate security officer in Michigan, has been imprisoned in Russia since December 2018 on espionage charges that his family and the US government have called unsubstantiated. .

Gerszkovic could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. According to Russian lawyers, investigations into past espionage cases took him from a year to 18 months, during which he had little contact with the outside world.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this month urged Russian State Secretary Sergei Lavrov to secure the immediate release of both Gershkovic and Whelan.

President Joe Biden spoke with Greshkovich’s parents on Tuesday and again condemned his detention. “We’ve made it clear that what’s going on is completely illegal, and we’ve declared it as such,” he said.

On Monday, the US government declared Gerszkovic “illegally detained.” This means that certain offices of the State Department are taking the lead in seeking his release.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested Gerszkovic on March 29 in Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth largest city. He is the first US correspondent to be detained in Russia on espionage charges since the Cold War.

The FSB, the successor to the Soviet-era KGB, accused Gerszkovic of trying to obtain classified information about Russian weapons factories.

On Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated Moscow’s claims that Gerszhkovic was arrested red-handed. He denied reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally sanctioned Gerszkovic’s arrest.

“It’s not the president’s authority. It’s up to the special services doing their job,” Peskov said on a conference call with reporters.

The United States pressured Russian authorities to allow Gershkovic access to the U.S. consulate. Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday that Moscow would provide it “in a timely manner in accordance with consular practices and Russian law.”

Gerszkovic is being held in Lefortovo Prison in Moscow. The prison dates back to tsarist times and has been a terrifying symbol of oppression since Soviet times.

Whelan was also held in Lefortovo until being sent to another prison to serve a 16-year sentence after his 2020 conviction.

https://wgnradio.com/news/international/official-russia-may-discuss-swap-involving-wsj-reporter/ Diplomat: Russia May Discuss Swap of Imprisoned US Reporters WGN Radio 720

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