September 30, 2023

MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin on Tuesday held the door open for contacts with the U.S. concerning a doable prisoner change that would probably contain jailed Wall Road Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, however reaffirmed that such talks should be held out of the general public eye.

Requested whether or not Monday’s consular visits to Gershkovich, who has been held behind bars in Moscow since March on prices of espionage, and Vladimir Dunaev, a Russian citizen in U.S. custody on cybercrime prices, might probably herald a prisoner swap, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that Moscow and Washington have touched on the difficulty.

“We’ve got stated that there have been sure contacts on the topic, however we don’t need them to be mentioned in public,” Peskov stated in a convention name with reporters. “They should be carried out and proceed in full silence.”

He didn’t provide any additional particulars, however added that “the lawful proper to consular contacts should be ensured on each side.”

A state division official declined to touch upon efforts to barter for the discharge of Gershkovich and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, additionally detained on accusations of spying.

The Biden administration says there have been no breakthroughs.

“Evan, together with Paul Whelan, who’re each wrongfully detained, needs to be dwelling with their households. I simply don’t have something to share presently,” White Home press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated Wednesday.

The U.S. Ambassador to Moscow, Lynne Tracy, on Monday was allowed to go to Gershkovich for the primary time since April. The U.S. Embassy didn’t instantly present extra data.

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The 31-year-old Gershkovich was arrested within the metropolis of Yekaterinburg whereas on a reporting journey to Russia. He’s being held at Moscow’s Lefortovo jail, infamous for its harsh situations. A Moscow courtroom final week upheld a ruling to maintain him in custody till Aug. 30.

Gershkovich and his employer deny the allegations, and the U.S. authorities declared him to be wrongfully detained. His arrest rattled journalists in Russia the place authorities haven’t supplied any proof to assist the espionage prices.

Gershkovich is the primary American reporter to face espionage prices in Russia since September 1986, when Nicholas Daniloff, a Moscow correspondent for U.S. Information and World Report, was arrested by the KGB. Daniloff was launched 20 days later in a swap for an worker of the Soviet Union’s U.N. mission who was arrested by the FBI, additionally on spying prices.

Dunaev was extradited from South Korea on the U.S. cybercrime prices and is in detention in Ohio. Russian diplomats have been granted consular entry to him on Monday for the primary time since his arrest in 2021, Nadezhda Shumova, the top of the Russian Embassy’s consular part, stated in remarks carried by the Tass information company.