Trump claims he will free US journalist Evan Gershkovich – but Russia hits back

Washington DC - Donald Trump boasted Thursday he would quickly free jailed US journalist Evan Gershkovich from Russia if he wins the presidential election, but Moscow denied discussing the case with the Republican candidate.

Donald Trump (pictured) said that he would quickly free jailed US journalist Evan Gershkovich if he wins re-election, but Moscow denied claims of communication.
Donald Trump (pictured) said that he would quickly free jailed US journalist Evan Gershkovich if he wins re-election, but Moscow denied claims of communication.  © MICHAEL M. SANTIAGO / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

Trump, who has frequently voiced admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin and has voiced skepticism over US support for Ukraine, said the Moscow strongman "will do that for me, but not for anyone else."

"Evan Gershkovich, the Reporter from The Wall Street Journal, who is being held by Russia, will be released almost immediately after the Election, but definitely before I assume Office," Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform.

"He will be HOME, SAFE, AND WITH HIS FAMILY."

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Trump said that the US "WILL BE PAYING NOTHING" – a likely jab at President Joe Biden's deal last year to free Americans from Iran that included the transfer of Iranian oil revenue that had been frozen by South Korea.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov asked about the remarks and said, "There aren't any contacts with Donald Trump."

"Regarding [US-Russia] contacts on the matter of incarcerated and convicted individuals, we can say that these contacts must be carried out in total secrecy. This is the only way they can be effective," he said.

Gershkovich has been in Moscow prison for over a year

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was arrested while on a reporting trip to Russia over a year ago.
Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was arrested while on a reporting trip to Russia over a year ago.  © NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA / AFP

Gershkovich (32) has been held in Moscow's notorious Lefortovo prison for more than a year after he was arrested while on a reporting trip to Russia.

He is the first Western journalist since the Soviet era to be arrested by Moscow on spying charges – accusations that he, his employer, and the US government reject.

The US ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, visited Gershkovich in prison on Thursday.

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He "maintains a positive attitude, awaiting the start of the court process for a case about a crime that he did not commit," the US embassy said in a statement on platform Telegram. "We once more urge the immediate release of Evan Gershkovich."

The Biden administration said in late 2023 that it made a "significant proposal" to Russia to free Gershkovich, likely as part of a prisoner swap, but that Moscow rejected it.

US intelligence concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump in his upset defeat of Hillary Clinton, including through social media postings.

Trump angrily denied his victory was the work of Russia and, at a famous news conference with Putin, appeared to accept the Russian leader's denial of interference.

Putin in the latest election cycle has said he prefers Biden, comments met with skepticism by many Russia watchers who believe Putin's intention may be to use his notoriety to boost Trump.

Cover photo: Collage: Michael M. Santiago / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

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