The hidden side of politics

Russian diplomat says Moscow and Washington discussing prisoner swap through third party

Reported by Washington Times:

The U.S. and Russia are in secret discussions about a possible prisoner swap that could see the return of jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, a former Marine and corporate security executive now serving a 16-year jail prison sentence on espionage charges, according to a Russian state media report.

Russia‘s official TASS news agency reports that Washington and Moscow are using a “special closed channel” to negotiate the details of a potential exchange.

“I am not authorized to comment on these information exchanges and signals passing through this channel,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters on Thursday.

Russia’s Federal Security Service, the FSB, arrested Mr. Gershkovich on March 29, 2023, while he was on a reporting trip to the city of Yekaterinburg. The Kremlin accused him of espionage, charges that the U.S. government and the Wall Street Journal both vehemently deny. Washington also rejects Mr. Whelan’s conviction and has officially designated both men as being unlawfully detained.

“The United States remains committed to bringing Evan and Paul home. People are not bargaining chips,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month while marking the first anniversary of Mr. Gershovich’s arrest. “People are not bargaining chips. Russia should end its practice of arbitrarily detaining individuals for political leverage and should immediately release Evan and Paul.”

Source:Washington Times