Trump Claims Putin Will Only Release Wall Street Journal Reporter If He Is Elected President

trump claims putin will only release wall street journal reporter if he is elected president

Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik via Reuters

Donald Trump claimed his uniquely special relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin would allow him to secure the release of Evan Gershkovich, the American Wall Street Journal reporter who has been detained in Russia for over a year on espionage charges which his newspaper and the Biden administration vehemently deny.

The GOP presumptive presidential nominee overnight wrote on his Truth Social platform that Gershkovich “will be released almost immediately after the Election, but definitely before I assume Office,” saying that his hypothetical election victory in November would ensure the journalist will be “HOME, SAFE, AND WITH HIS FAMILY.” “Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, will do that for me, but not for anyone else, and WE WILL BE PAYING NOTHING!” he added.

Much like his promise to end Russia’s war in Ukraine within a day of his return to the White House, his supposed plan to free Gershkovich was not accompanied by any specifics about how it would actually happen.

The Kremlin also quickly denied that Putin has had any contact with Trump about the case. “Putin, naturally, does not have any contacts with Donald Trump here,” Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.

Peskov nevertheless appeared to take a swipe at Trump’s confident, public assertion. On the subject of freeing prisoners, Peskov said, “We can say that these contacts should be carried out in complete silence and absolutely discreetly.” He added that discretion is “the only way” such talks “can be effective.”

Gershkovich was arrested while on a reporting trip in the city of Yekaterinburg in March 2023. He has since been held in pretrial detention over allegations of spying which have been strenuously denied by the Journal and the U.S. government, which considers him wrongfully detained.

“To date, Russia has provided no evidence of wrongdoing for a simple reason: Evan did nothing wrong,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a March statement marking the anniversary of Gershkovich’s arrest. He added that the U.S. “remains committed” to bringing the journalist home together with Paul Whelan, the former U.S. Marine imprisoned in Russia after being convicted of spying.

It’s unclear how close the Biden administration is to securing Gershkovich’s freedom. In his February interview with Tucker Carlson, Putin said he believed a deal “can be reached,” citing the success of earlier prisoner-swap arrangements made with Western countries. He implied that in return for freeing Gershkovich, he is seeking the release of Vadim Krasikov—an assassin with links to Russia’s FSB security service who is jailed in Germany for the 2019 murder of a Chechen commander in a park in Berlin.

An ally of the late Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny also claimed in February that a swap deal to free Navalny and two Americans was in the “final stage” shortly before Navalny’s death in an Arctic penal colony. She did not specify which Americans were included in the proposed deal, though the Biden administration said it was working to free Whelan and Gershkovich at the time.

The Daily Beast has contacted the Journal for comment.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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