WSJ: Putin Said a Prisoner Swap Can Lead to the Release of Evan Gershkovich

AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter based in Moscow, is being held in a Russian prison on the charge of espionage. Tucker Carlson traveled to Russia for an interview with Putin. At the end of the interview, Tucker brought up Evan. 


Tucker offered to bring Evan home. John wrote about Putin's reaction to Tucker's offer. I've written about Evan and his arrest and imprisonment many times. I am pleased that Tucker brought up the subject. I imagine Evan's family and friends are, too. 

Here is one thing I am pondering - if Tucker's offer had been accepted by Putin and he did bring Evan home, would the left and its media cohorts be slamming Tucker for going to get the interview with Putin? In other words, would it be acceptable to the left if some good came from the interview? We'll never know because Putin isn't going to release Evan any time soon. 

The truth is that Democrats like to beat up on Tucker because he does what they will not do - he asks hard questions. I may not always agree with his style or with his hot takes on current events but I don't have my hair on fire that he went to Russia to interview Putin. Did he go to try to be a hero and bring Evan home? I don't know but if he did, kudos for the attempt.

There has been talk of a prisoner swap agreement being ironed out between Putin and the State Department. (Let's face it, Joe Biden isn't involved.) Putin told Tucker that a swap is still being discussed.

Gershkovich has been detained since March 2023 on an espionage allegation that he, the Journal and the U.S. government vehemently deny. In a two-hour interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Putin said a prisoner swap was being discussed between the U.S. and Russia. Such talks have led to swaps in the past “and probably this is going to be crowned with success as well,” Putin said. “But we have to come to an agreement.”

Putin didn’t say who, specifically, Moscow was demanding in return for Gershkovich or other U.S. citizens now detained in Russia. But he made clear reference to Russian operative Vadim Krasikov, now serving a life sentence in Germany for gunning down a Chechen émigré in a Berlin park in 2019. Putin called Krasikov, whom he did not refer to by name, a Russian patriot.


Both the Wall Street Journal, Evan's employer, and the State Department released statements. The State Department included Paul Whelan, a former Marine also imprisoned in a Russian prison on the charge of espionage.

“We’re encouraged to see Russia’s desire for a deal that brings Evan home, and we hope this will lead to his rapid release and return to his family and our newsroom,” The Wall Street Journal said in a statement.

“Evan is a journalist, and journalism is not a crime. Any portrayal to the contrary is total fiction,” the Journal added. “Evan was unjustly arrested and has been wrongfully detained by Russia for nearly a year for doing his job, and we continue to demand his immediate release.”

Evan Gershkovich never should have been detained in the first place. Russia should immediately release Evan and Paul Whelan,” a State Department spokesperson said. Whelan is a former Marine and corporate security executive from Michigan who was arrested by the Kremlin’s spy agencies, in 2018.

Putin didn't accept Tucker's goodwill gesture to bring Evan home but he did say he wanted Evan to go home because “it does not make any sense to keep him in prison in Russia.” No, it does not. Unfortunately, we can't trust a word that comes out of Putin's mouth. He said it is up to the United States to facilitate Evan's release.

“I also want him to return to his homeland, at last. I’m absolutely sincere,” Putin said. “But let me say once again: the dialogue continues. The more public we render these things of this nature, the more difficult it becomes to resolve them. Everything has to be done in a calm manner.”


Russian negotiators like secrecy in their deliberations. Whenever there seems to be too much exposure to a prisoner's story, the Russians pull back until interest fades. 

Good for Tucker to try to bring Evan home. The left will use Tucker's trip to Russia against him. He's been accused of being a Putin puppet ever since he began speaking out against the billions and billions of dollars going to Ukraine without accountability. I think if you believe in freedom of the press, some real attempts at journalism should be applauded. 

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Jazz Shaw 8:30 AM | February 25, 2024