… in recent weeks we have made a new and significant proposal to secure Paul and Evan’s release. The proposal was rejected by Russia.U.S. Department of State Spokesperson Matthew Miller in a press briefing on Tuesday, noting that the Russian government recently rejected a U.S. offer to bring home two wrongfully detained Americans, Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich.
Big Picture: Corporate security executive and veteran Paul Whelan (53) has been held by Russia since 2018 after being arrested while visiting for a friend’s wedding; he is serving a 16-year prison sentence for espionage charges which both he and the U.S. government deny. Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich (32) has been detained in Russia for more than 250 days (after being arrested while on a reporting trip), also on espionage charges, which both he, The WSJ and the U.S. government deny. Gershkovich is currently being held in (recently-extended) pretrial detention, and while both the Biden admin and the Russian government have said they are open to a prisoner exchange including Gershkovich, The WSJ reports, “Russian officials say they would contemplate a swap only after a verdict in his case.”
On Tuesday, Miller said, “Not a week goes by without intense activity to bring Paul and Evan home,” adding, “we have made a number of proposals and including a substantial one in recent weeks. And we will continue to work every day to bring Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan home. There is no higher priority for the Secretary of State; there is no higher priority for the President.” Miller declined to provide further details on the offer.
Read More: US made offer to bring home jailed Americans Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich. Russia rejected it (The Associated Press)
Russia Rejects ‘Significant Proposal’ to Trade for WSJ’s Gershkovich, Whelan, U.S. Says (The Wall Street Journal)
As Evan Gershkovich recently marked his 32nd birthday in a Russian prison, Jenna spoke with Evan’s sister, Danielle, who provides a window into her family’s plight since he’s been detained, plus, The Wall Street Journal’s Paul Beckett who explains why Evan’s case matters to us all:
by Leah Grainery, based in Texas