Biden Is Serious About Prisoner Swap For Wall Street Journal Reporter Ivan Gershkovich

President Biden said Thursday that he is serious about a prisoner exchange for Wall Street Journal reporter Ivan Gershkovich, who has been held in Russia for more than 100 days.

“I’m serious about prisoner exchanges,” Biden told reporters during a news conference in Helsinki. “I am serious about doing everything we can to free Americans who are illegally detained in Russia or elsewhere. And that process is ongoing.”

The comments came at the end of a five-day swing across Europe, which included attending this year’s NATO summit in Lithuania and a visit to Britain.

Gershkovich was arrested on espionage charges during a reporting trip to Russia. In April, the State Department officially announced that the reporter had been wrongly detained.

Kremlin and White House officials have confirmed that they have discussed possible prisoner transfers, including Gershkovich. The Kremlin has insisted those discussions are not in the public eye.

White House national security adviser Jack Sullivan met with representatives of the Wall Street Journal and Gershkovich’s family last week to discuss the status of his case — a meeting that coincided with the 100-day mark since the start of the reporter’s detention.

Despite stressing the president’s commitment to the prisoner exchange, Sullivan last week underscored that he did not want to give the reporter “false hope” about taking him home.

“We’ve made it clear for months now — even before Ivan was taken into custody, we’ve been in contact with Paul Whelan — that we’re willing to do tough things to get our citizens home. Whelan, a former Marine, was arrested in Moscow in 2018 on espionage charges, a charge the U.S. government denies.

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“I don’t want to give false hope,” Sullivan continued. “What the Kremlin said earlier this week is correct. There have been discussions, but those discussions have not produced a clear path to a resolution, so I cannot stand here today and say we have a clear answer to how we are going to get home to Evan.

Debates about repatriating Americans wrongfully detained in Russia have raged throughout much of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The White House continues to press for Whelan’s release. And last year, WNBA star Brittney Griner was released from a Russian prison and extradited to the United States in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bode.

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