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Top US negotiator vows to return Gershkovich, Whelan from Russia

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America’s top negotiator vowed that not only will the United States bring home recently-detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich from Russia, but Paul Whelan as well. Gershkovich was detained in Russia on March 29 while on a reporting trip.

Russia has accused him of espionage, but the U.S. says he is being wrongfully detained. Gershkovich has yet to be visited by U.S. Embassy officials, as the U.S. struggles to gain consular access from Russia. On Tuesday, April 11, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby responded to a reporter asking why access hasn’t been granted yet.

“That’s a great question for Russian officials. It’s not for lack of trying. I can assure you that. The State Department’s been trying to get consular access to him ever since the moment we found out that he was detained,” Kirby responded. “We want to see him released immediately. But I’m just not at liberty to talk about the context of any specific conversations that we might or might not be having with the Russians about him.”

In a series of television interviews Wednesday, April 12, Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens said the U.S. was continuing to push for access. He added that the U.S. is owed as much under international law.

In addition to Gershkovich, Carstens also discussed Whelan, who has been detained in Russia since 2018 on espionage charges. Whelan was notably not a part of the December, 2022 prisoner swap that brought women’s basketball star Brittney Griner back to the U.S. from Russia.

Carstens said he spoke with Whelan by phone on Monday, April 10, and said that the U.S. has “a significant offer on the table” to bring Whelan home.

“Paul Whelan is still front and center in the administration’s mind and we’re going to find a way to get Paul Whelan and Evan home,” Carstens said.

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AMERICA’S TOP NEGOTIATOR HAS MADE A BOLD PROMISE.

NOT ONLY WILL THE U-S BRING HOME THE RECENTLY-DETAINED WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORTER EVAN GERSHKOVICH — BUT PAUL WHELAN AS WELL.

THE FORMER WAS DETAINED IN RUSSIA TWO WEEKS AGO WHILE ON A REPORTING TRIP.

RUSSIA HAS ACCUSED HIM OF ESPIONAGE — BUT THE U-S SAYS HE IS BEING WRONGFULLY DETAINED.

GERSHKOVICH HAS YET TO BE VISITED BY U-S EMBASSY OFFICIALS — AS THE U-S STRUGGLES TO GAIN CONSULAR ACCESS FROM RUSSIA.

“That’s a great question for Russian officials. It’s not for lack of trying. I can assure you that. The State Department’s been trying to get consular access to him ever since the moment we found out that he was detained.”

ROGER CARSTENS IS THE SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR HOSTAGE AFFAIRS.

IN A SERIES OF TELEVISION INTERVIEWS WEDNESDAY — CARSTENS SAID THE U-S WAS CONTINUING TO PUSH FOR ACCESS — AND THAT THE U-S IS OWED AS MUCH UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW.

CARSTENS ALSO DISCUSSED WHELAN — WHO HAS BEEN DETAINED IN RUSSIA SINCE 20-18 ON ESPIONAGE CHARGES.

HE NOTABLY WAS NOT A PART OF LAST YEAR’S PRISONER SWAP THAT BROUGHT WOMEN’S BASKETBALL STAR BRITTNEY GRINER BACK TO THE U-S FROM RUSSIA.

CARSTENS SAID HE SPOKE WITH WHELAN EARLIER THIS WEEK — AND THAT THE U-S HAS QUOTE “A SIGNIFICANT OFFER ON THE TABLE” — END QUOTE — TO BRING WHELAN HOME.